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How Code Platoon is retooling veterans for technical careers

How Code Platoon is retooling veterans for technical careers
Rod Levy [Photo: Whitten Sabbatini; Groomer: Audrey Bryant]

Rod Levy founded Code Platoon in 2014 with veterans like Deja Baker in mind. The Chicago-based program teaches practical coding skills and lines up private-sector internships for its students.

A Cornell graduate with degrees in civil structural engineering and environmental economics (as well as an MBA from the University of Chicago), Levy left his career as a derivatives trader to try his hand at a coding boot camp himself. He’d hoped to become the technical founder of his own venture-backed startup, but after completing the nine-week program and working briefly as a junior developer, he pivoted and decided to empower others instead.

Levy realized that if he made a code academy that focused on veterans—a group of people who were by nature (and training) driven, disciplined, and decisive—he could give them the necessary tools to build new careers. “Dev boot camps don’t train people to become architects,” Levy says.

“They train them to become carpenters.”

To be admitted, vets complete essays, create personal YouTube videos, and solve a handful of rudimentary coding problems that require teaching themselves about 40 hours’ worth of lessons. “That’s the challenge,” he says. “If you lack interest or aptitude, you won’t get in.” In short, Levy has created a program that selects for grit.

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