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Holiday Giving Challenge: Code Platoon

Code Platoon is a Chicago nonprofit organization that seeks to turn military veterans into professional software developers. The program helps veterans transitioning to the workforce find new careers, and creates an opportunity for local companies to source new development talent. Code Platoon provides an intensive 14-week coding bootcamp and pairs graduates with companies for internships. The program has 24 graduates, 18 of whom have full-time roles, and six students enrolled.

[This blog was written and contributed by Rodrigo Levy, Founder and Executive Director at Code Platoon]

I used to be a trader. I traded equity options on the Cboe floor and then ran a volatility desk. As the trading environment grew more competitive, I left in 2012 with aspirations of becoming a software developer. But when I learned it would take two to four years to get a computer science degree, I decided to look for a better way.

That’s when I came across Dev Bootcamp. Their immersive course taught the practical skills needed to become a software developer in nine weeks. Their new model for job training was impressive, and I was intrigued.

Around the same time, my son was begging me to buy him the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. I wasn’t on board at first, but my son persisted and informed me that all profits from the first day of game sales were donated to the Call of Duty Endowment foundation, a charity that helps veterans find employment. I went to their website to learn more.

I found out that veterans develop skills for 10+ years in the military, but they aren’t necessarily prepared to enter the workforce after their tour of duty. I did my due diligence, and found that software development training for veterans was an unmet need. I had firsthand experience with Dev Bootcamp’s innovative training model, so I set forth to create a solution: a nonprofit coding bootcamp for veterans.

Fast forward to 2014: I founded Code Platoon and began to seek opportunities to further develop the organization. I spoke with other companies, including DRW, and they were immediately interested in getting involved.

From the beginning, DRW has helped support the program. This is Code Platoon’s third year participating in DRW’s Holiday Giving Challenge. In addition to funding, DRW has also hired our graduates as interns and provided their employees as instructors and mentors. Two Code Platoon graduates currently work at DRW, one of whom has now been brought on as full-time employee.

Greg works as an automation & support engineer. Greg enlisted in the Army before finishing high school, and when he returned from his tour, he moved to Chicago. Without a plan, but with an interest in programming, Greg began his journey to get back into the workforce. He found Code Platoon and quickly enrolled in our program, which is, by design, a more feasible option than similar offerings.

After the 14-week program, Greg further developed his problem-solving skills. It was more than just coding — it introduced him to life in a business setting and gave him a support system that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Greg told me that, before Code Platoon, he never pictured himself working in a professional setting. But during his experience at Code Platoon, his coding skills continued to improve, and he began to envision a future in software development.

Success stories like Greg’s and those of other Code Platoon graduates are truly rewarding. Equally rewarding was seeing the smile on my son’s face when we received a care package of Call of Duty swag and the full set of games from the Call of Duty Endowment foundation!

If you’re interested in learning more about Code Platoon, visit codeplatoon.org.

DRW Communications

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