Looking for a New Career?

Written by: Fargo Inc
Emerging Digital Academy Program Director Blaine Booher

Emerging Digital Academy Might Be Your Answer

Whether you are someone interested in tech, someone who has played around with coding on the side but never committed fully or someone just simply looking for a career change, the Emerging Digital Academy may be right for you!

What is the Emerging Digital Academy (EDA)?

EDA is a 20-week immersive coding boot camp, the only coding Bootcamp of its kind in the state of North Dakota. The program was created by Emerging Prairie in 2020 with the intent of bridging the large gap in North Dakota college graduates prepared to fill the state’s large number of open software engineer positions.

The structure of the program, according to Program Director Blaine Booher, consists of six 25-30 hour virtual weeks that include a large amount of introductory information, followed by 14 weeks of full-time work.

“Students are here, essentially, from 9 a.m., sometimes earlier, to 5 p.m.,” Booher said. “It’s like a full-time job with 20 hours a week of homework and projects. And then, we switch up the content quite a bit. So, earlier in the week, we may focus on technical lectures and new content. Then, later in the week, we may pivot to group activities or team-building activities. We will really focus on tackling the same problems in different ways. And then, each week is a brand new topic. In the last six weeks, we will work on project work.”

In all of that, students will learn what they truly need to work in technology: the ability to solve bigger problems and to be comfortable with the ambiguity of learning. The graduates of EDA are not much different from anyone else moving from postsecondary education into a career—most of what they actually do on the job they learn on the job, not in the classroom. However, the program helps to develop the abilities to solve and attack problems that are critical in this field.

Perhaps nearly as important as the material is the opportunity the program provides to create meaningful connections. Each week, cohort members will have the opportunity to work with a mentor—many of whom continue their mentorship of the student in an unofficial capacity after graduation.

Interested in Applying?

Those interested in applying should know that the EDA team screens candidates pretty extensively in order to ensure that they are a good fit for the program. However, anyone who is interested should apply as the vetting process is only intended to ensure that prospective students don’t waste money and time on something that may not be a fit for them.

This has allowed EDA to graduate 89% of its cohort members with 90% of those graduates finding an opportunity within the field within six months of graduation.

What are the Graduates Up To?

We interviewed a handful of EDA graduates to see what professional strides they have made since participating.

Ujjwal Adhikari

Associate Technical Consultant, Perficient

After years of starting and quitting jobs, Ujjwal Adhikari had enough. He was ready to go back to school. However, the COVID-19 pandemic made that nearly impossible. Then, he found Emerging Digital Academy.

“My experience at EDA was amazing. I had gone into it with the mindset that it was just going to be another job. However, it was so much more than that. I felt like I was a part of something and had the ability to be someone. EDA does an excellent job of fostering confidence! My career path has been so much better. I received a job right after EDA at an offer that was much higher than what I was expecting. The company that I work for is also very flexible which has been one of the biggest differences between this job and my previous jobs at Mcdonald’s and UPS.”

Quinn Johnson

Software Engineer, Bushel

In high school, Quinn Johnson planned on joining the military, but due to medical concerns, was disqualified from enlisting. Since he didn’t have a Plan B, he went right into construction—something he did every summer in high school. He loved the work but didn’t want to end up in the endless cycle of waking up early, working all day, going to the bar and drinking before bed.

“The thought of getting into EDA was scary to me. Before applying, I had zero experience with software development but was interested in computers, the apps/programs within them and how all of that works. During the first few weeks of EDA, I struggled with content. Luckily, Blaine and Mary, my instructors at the time, were phenomenal teachers. After graduating from EDA, I have been working at Bushel Inc., which has been such a fantastic experience in which I am challenged daily and pushed by my fellow engineers to be the best I can be. My time at Bushel started as an internship, getting me up and running on the tech stack and processes we utilize daily. My internship was short-lived before I was offered a full-time position where I would then be placed on a multi-million dollar project that would be a turning point for Bushel. Since my time on that project, I have transitioned to a different part of the company where I help the Trade Team develop our trading platform product for all kinds of merchandisers, from small elevators to huge companies like ADM.”

David Brown

Frontend Developer, Cota

Prior to enrolling with Emerging Digital Academy, David Brown worked various labor jobs with virtually no prospect of advancement.

“The future I saw for myself was working until an injury removed me from the job. And, with any luck, I’d collect disability for the remainder of my life. After graduating from the program, I felt renewed, relieved and more optimistic about the future than I had been since middle school, dreaming of being an independent adult. My career prospects are virtually unbounded. Although I can’t be certain what jobs I may hold in the future, I am confident that learning mobile development, object-oriented programming and a smidge of big data concepts will allow me to be a competitive candidate at virtually every company. It has truly given me a new lease on life.”

Jamie Naasz

Software Developer, SCHEELS

At 14, Jamie Naasz began working in the food service and construction industries.

“This continued until 2012 when I decided I wanted something different. I was tired of always being too hot or too cold being as I was working outdoors in Minnesota and North Dakota. And I was fully convinced that school was my way out. I quit my job and enrolled full-time in college. This was great, for about 2 years. I was pursuing a Biology degree, which was fascinating to me but also left me wondering what I would do with this degree. I knew that all the career options I wished to pursue would, unfortunately, require many more years of school and tremendous amounts of debt. Priorities in my life were shifting at this time and that led to me deciding that the additional investment was not worth it and I went back to construction. Not far down the road, I again felt the need for a change. This led me to work at SCHEELS. I had been working at SCHEELS for about five years and once again began to get restless with work. After talking with people in the SCHEELS IT department, I decided to give software development a chance. This ultimately led me to EDA. The intensity and pace of EDA, while challenging, allowed me to transition into the industry very quickly. I am still employed at SCHEELS, now as a software developer.

“Since becoming a software developer, every day is incredibly unique with many challenges and an ever-growing list of skills to learn. I started as Software Developer Support in April 2021, transitioned to Software Developer in November 2021, and will now transition to Software Developer Technical Team Lead in January 2023. The opportunities provided to me by the training I received at EDA can’t be emphasized enough. The future looks incredibly bright with numerous paths for me to pursue all under the umbrella of software development.”

So, No Matter Your Current Career Path, EDA Might Be An Option For You!

Contact Emerging Digital Academy

Facebook: /emergingdigitalacademy
Instagram: @emergingdigitalacademy
Twitter: @emergingdigitalacademy

Share This Article
Brady Drake is the editor of Fargo INC!