Since day one, our focus has been on transforming lives by helping people get better jobs in tech. After helping hundreds of students in central Indiana launch new careers, Scott Jones, Eleven Fifty Academy’s Founder and President, is on a mission to impact a million students in the next decade, with each earning $1 million over the course of ten years.
“It’s a pretty big undertaking and I think it speaks to the mission of what Scott sees for the future of cybersecurity and coding,” says Chris Hutchinson.
As Eleven Fifty’s Vice President of Partnership, Hutchinson plays a big role in bringing this vision to life. Hutchinson joined the Eleven Fifty team in early 2020, bringing with him experience in entrepreneurship and higher ed development and partnerships at Harrison College.
“I’ve always been a fan of higher education, but not necessarily the traditional four-year model,” he explains. “I see value in the traditional model, but I also feel a lot of people don’t necessarily need that in order to be successful.”
The coding bootcamp world has proved a natural fit. We talked with Hutchinson about his role and Eleven Fifty’s work to continue building tech talent in Indiana.
How does your role help tech students?
The State of Indiana as a whole has one of the biggest skills deficits in the country. For example, for every one cybersecurity professional, there are 2.4 jobs open. There’s a huge gap.
I get the privilege of helping work with markets we’ve identified as an opportunity for expansion. I also help find new markets where we can bring Eleven Fifty Academy to not only impact the lives of prospective students, but also impact and provide benefit to area employers.
What are some of Eleven Fifty’s expansion plans?
Recently we began working closely with WestGate@Crane Technology Park in Odon, Indiana, to launch our cybersecurity bootcamp. Radius Indiana, which is a regional economic development organization, is helping make this happen.
We are working directly with Greene, Martin, and Daviess counties to make opening a campus there a reality, post COVID-19. We would not only serve those counties as an educator, but also help area employers identify and retain the talent they’ll need in both the short and long run.
We’re also looking at opening a campus in Gary, Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Muncie.
How do these expansions benefit Indiana?
The state talks a lot about brain drain and brain gain. We want to develop talent in geographic areas so people don’t have to move to make a suitable living wage.
When you complete your 12 or 14-week coding or cybersecurity bootcamp, you’re likely to be employable immediately and to start making, on average, a salary of $55,000 or more in Indiana. For someone who worked as a barista, in a customer call center, or as a bartender, they’re sometimes more than doubling or even tripling their salary in their first job after an Eleven Fifty program. We talk a lot about changing and impacting lives, and we truly believe in it. But we also have the metrics and the proof to back it up.
We have a lot of pieces moving at the same time, all with the same end goal of identifying prospective partners and identifying students who are looking for different career options, have been displaced, or are motivated by cutting edge technology.
What about areas that don’t have many job opportunities? How does building the talent pool help?
In a city like Gary, for example, there are less businesses in immediate proximity, but there are opportunities in the Chicagoland area. Residents of Gary may have to commute initially, but they’re going to start generating income that is immediately life-changing.
When there’s a noticeable talent pool and pipeline of folks that are working in or around Chicago and Gary, companies are going to notice, “Wow, there’s actually a pretty sufficient talent pool here.” The goal is to help send awareness to businesses that it’s a good community to set up shop.
Is there any financial assistance available?
Locking up funding support for each of our new markets that we’re trying to get launched still this year is the largest part of my job.
We’re a nonprofit organization and we want buy-in from everybody. We’ve set up ways to help students pay. We’ve developed a really cool tool called PISA that allows students to pay back what they borrow, essentially interest-free. We’re able to do that through some of these other funding vehicles that we’ve captured or leveraged through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
We really look to develop it as a complete community engagement where we’re just a piece of it and we’re not going into communities and building brand new campuses.
What would you say to someone considering joining an Eleven Fifty bootcamp?
People surprise themselves how wired they may be for a career in coding or cybersecurity. We get a lot of people that have never attempted to code, aren’t even that comfortable on a computer, but have really thrived in our programs.
I would encourage people to take our free Intro to Coding classes where you can sit down and get a behind the scenes look of what it’s like to be in our no-pressure environment. Then you can see if it’s something that’s for you.