What sets Zip Code Wilmington apart from other coding boot camps? Our laser focus on job placement for our graduates. We create a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity to help our graduates change their income potential for life while increasing the region’s ability to meet the growing demand for software developers.

We rate our success as a school based on the success of our graduates finding valuable employment. As of our April 2017 graduating class, 92% of graduates have accepted paid technical roles within 3 months of graduating. Much of that placement success results from our close partnerships with the businesses that hire our graduates.

Today we highlight one of our many valued corporate partners: BlackRock, a global asset manager.

Did you know that BlackRock is trusted to manage more money than any other investment firm*?

BlackRock’s partnership with Zip Code Wilmington began in March 2017. Since then, the firm has hired three Zip Coders, participated in our #MeetTheExperts Tech Talks for students and alumni, and awarded Zip Code a grant to help future students.

Aaron Kipnis, BlackRock’s Director of Software Development Management, has been with the company for 15 years. Kipnis leads a team responsible for the full software development lifecycle of the collateral management software product. He has been an integral part of the BlackRock/Zip Code Wilmington partnership since its inception. His involvement with the students and his desire to help guide the future of the program is what led him in July 2017 to join Zip Code Wilmington’s Steering Committee. As a member of the Steering Committee, Aaron helps evolve the school’s curriculum to ensure we’re teaching the most up-to-date skills needed for BlackRock’s entry-level developer roles.

After only three months at Zip Code, three graduates left their Zip Code desks to help program BlackRock’s Aladdin® operating system. To understand its scale, approximately 25,000 investment professionals around the world rely on the Aladdin® system and it is powered by more than 2,000 developers as of September 30, 2017.**

The Aladdin® operating system is relied on by approximately 25,000 investment professionals around the world.

There’s a bit of on the job training within their new teams, but the incomers learn by doing. Things like object-oriented programming concepts are key, but beyond the tech skills, BlackRock looks for well-prepared hires. In other words, they want the full package.

Kipnis finds our graduates are well prepared and hit the ground running. He speaks highly of his experience with the three graduates hired by the firm – each of whom uses sophisticated technology to develop the software applications and digital experiences that form BlackRock’s core investment management strategy. “The Zip Code graduates came in very hungry and ready to collaborate,” says Kipnis. He’s found the maturity and ability to contribute to the team immediately is a big plus when it comes to Zip Code Wilmington graduates. “Our Zip Code hires have been in professional settings before, so they have an understanding of how to communicate, how to take initiative and how to handle themselves in various situations,” says Kipnis. In fact, based on their maturity, Zip Code graduates are usually trusted to head their own project tasks within only a few weeks on the job.

BlackRock offers a tremendous opportunity for professional software developers because the firm allows developers to move to different teams to build a technical skillset as well as financial knowledge. The firm prides itself on creating a working model where business requirement teams, architects, designers, and developers work outside of silos to understand each project’s full scope and to give necessary input. “This model gives ample opportunity to learn and, ultimately, room for growth and advancement,” says Kipnis.

Zip Code attracted BlackRock as a partner because both organizations share the desire to increase diversity in the local technology market. Currently, nearly half of Zip Code’s students represent racial and ethnic minority groups, and 20% are female. Further, 30% of Zip Code students live below 200% of the national poverty line, making them scholarship eligible.

To help Zip Code reach even more applicants from underserved communities, BlackRock recently awarded Zip Code a grant to provide select students with stipends to assist with everyday living expenses. These needs-based stipends will be available starting with the Spring 2018 cohort. “We want to bridge the gap for people like the single mother who can’t stop working to attend boot camp, because she has to pay for daycare,” says Kipnis. “The goal of the grant is to help make the program more accessible to everyone who has the passion for coding.”

As the BlackRock partnership with Zip Code continues to grow, Kipnis encourages other companies to hire from Zip Code as well. “I’d tell anyone who’ll listen that they should focus some recruiting effort on coding camps because it brings in a different skillset to your company, and it’s a great way to bring in people who have the technical knowledge needed to succeed,” says Kipnis. We are grateful for BlackRock’s ongoing support and look to continue a successful partnership.

* Based on $6.3 trillion in AUM as of 12/31/17
** Data as of 6/30/17