Calling all budding young code writers
Imagine a career that could place you in one of the top earning brackets and that can be learned from the comfort of your home in a matter of months at practically no cost.
It may sound too good to be true but a young team of coders and programmers are determined to encourage Bermuda's young people to become the next generation of Google, Facebook and Twitter tech bosses. They want to introduce them to a career that can empower them to be creators and producers of technology rather than just consumers.
Bermudian Jahde Eve is one of a group of young people who launched Code441, a non-profit organisation working to expose young people to the technology sector. The group has organised what it believes to be the first official Hackathon on the Island.
The purpose of the free event is to bring together like-minded people aged 12 to 17 years old to develop new skills to build technical applications in a fun environment.
A junior programmer for a New York firm, Mr Eve learned much of what he knows about programming from books, websites and forums while practising his budding art on free software.
He said: “I think technology, especially on the programming and development side, would be a huge opportunity for Bermudians – it's not widely known here that this can be a profession.
“When I was growing up I saw programming or coding as something astrophysicists would do and as something that is extremely complicated. The first time I was exposed to it was in the movie Matrix; Neo is the programmer in the movie. Most would think you have to be genius-level smart to approach it. It's an issue of accessibility and knowing it's possible to do.”
Mr Eve said there is a growing demand for coders and programmers and sees endless opportunities in the field for Bermudians both on the Island and globally.
“The beauty of it is that the employment opportunities in programming have become so global that you don't actually have to be in the country of the company you work for.
“In the US there is a shortage of programmers, so many are outsourcing their programming work to Asian and European countries.
“With us being so close to the US, being English speaking, and also having a very good relationship with the US, Bermudians could work for Google or Facebook or Twitter from Bermuda. Much of the work is done online and most of the meetings can be done through Skype. There are offshore teams for every major technology company.
“Also, major financial firms employ tech departments that are not in the same country. The world is becoming so connected.”
One example to work locally would be within the reinsurance market — one of the major employers of Bermudians on the Island. They use programmers to map out their casualties and their reserves, working closely with actuaries and underwriters.
“A few of the developers helping with Code441 are employed as developers for insurance companies on the Island and another is actually working for Google. The demand is growing so quickly programmers are needed in every industry — industries that were never needed before — and I think that is why it is so lucrative.”
Mr Eve said that a junior programmer in the States “right out of school” can look to earn anything between $70k to $100k, while at the top end, he said, the possibilities could be endless.
“If you are really good and have good connections, you can start your own company which could be sold for millions, hundreds of millions even billions of dollars. In the employed world you could make $200k plus a year, it really depends. What's great about the career is that the lifestyle offers a healthy balance and is not super stressful.”
Hackathons, which are now cropping up all over the world, tend to focus on a particular theme. The upcoming Bermuda event will focus on HTML and CSS — the building blocks of websites.
Asked what inspired him to become a programmer, Mr Eve said: “I think my generation was the first generation to grow up with the internet so I've been interested in technology from a very young age.
“From hi5 to MSN Messenger to MySpace I always found computers and the internet very exciting. I became interested in the start-up scene in the US — seeing companies like Instagram being founded and two years later being bought for a billion dollars was absolutely insane to me and I realised that a lot of these entrepreneurs were self-taught.
“The gentleman who founded Instagram learned how to code on his own. The opportunity was blossoming and it became a lot more accessible over the past year or two — lots of companies have been launched to teach you how to code so you don't necessarily have to go to college.
“Although I'm still new to programming and have a lot of learning to do, the ability to put a simple application together makes you feel like the world is at your fingertips. If you have an idea for a website or mobile app you can sit down, start coding and go for it. Learning how to code cuts out the middle man and that's what we hope to inspire from other young people.”
The Code441 Hackathon takes place on Friday, January 2 at the XL Group from 10am to 4pm, 1 Bermudiana Road, Hamilton. The event is aimed at youngsters aged 12 to 17 years old and lunch will be served.
Anyone interested can register online at www.code441.com. Questions can be e-mailed to email@example.com