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S2E16: Building Vets Who Code with Jerome Hardaway

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In today’s episode of the Learn to Code With Me podcast, I speak with Jerome Hardaway. Following his service in the U.S. Air Force, Jerome was faced with limited career options. After teaching himself how to code, he began working as a web developer. He then founded Vets Who Code, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preparing veterans for tech jobs.

In our conversation today, Jerome talks about the events that got him interested in tech. His experiences and a desire to help others led him to VWC. We discuss the difference in startups v.s. nonprofits and the unique strategies that led to Jerome's success.

Jerome's journey into tech brought him a long way from where he started. We talk about the learning process employed by VWC and how it focuses on quality over quantity. It also highlights the importance of fundamentals and mastering the skills tech managers want. Ultimately, we see that Jerome's method of incorporating for profit methodologies into the nonprofit arena provides amazing results.

Key takeaways:

  • Applying agile methodologies and sprint thinking to the nonprofit structure is helpful. Use strategies that focus on simplifying the work process.
  • Follow the Rework concept of “hire only when it hurts.” Wait until you see a defined weakness in your workflow before you start adding people to the team.
  • Don't limit your talent by restricting employees to one region. Find people who fit your mission and can work well with your team. Talented workers can do amazing things.
  • Skills pay the bills. You can have all the network and community in the world, but you'll be lost without the technical skills.
  • Structure your learning around what hiring managers want. If you can't impress the technical interviewer with your skills, you won't get to the next step.
  • Focus on quality rather than quantity. Fundamentals are more important in the long run and are easier to build on as you keep learning.

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