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TechHire Pittsburgh trainees participate in Steel City CodeFest 5.0

Three months ago, Matt Teitz focused on selling cars, not using coding to solve a civic challenge. Today, skilled in programming languages such as Ruby, Sinatra, and JavaScript, Teitz and other trainees from TechHire Pittsburgh used their learning to develop an application emergency personnel can use when responding to a natural disaster.

Teitz and the other TechHire Pittsburgh coding trainees recently participated in Steel City CodeFest 5.0, a week-long annual competition that brings together tech, government and nonprofits to solve social and civic challenges.  The TechHire group responded to the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) of Allegheny County’s challenge: To develop a digital way for emergency personnel to record data, reduce inaccuracies, and secure funding more quickly to help people rebuild after a natural disaster.

Although the trainees didn’t win the challenge, individuals spent a total of 400 hours developing an application that allows personnel to electronically record information, search existing data, and upload images. Individuals not only used classroom learning in a real-world application, they also engaged in project management and client relations skills. The application is being considered for further development, Teitz said.

“There’s a difference between studying coding and coding,” he said of the experience. “I learned how group dynamics differ than working alone. More, we learned how to make difficult decisions when faced with a deadline and project guidelines.”

TechHire, with ties to a national initiative, aims to build the digital skills divide and is led by the City of Pittsburgh, Partner4Work, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development in collaboration with partners from the business, government, education, philanthropic and non-profit communities.  The initiative focuses on tech jobs across industry sectors that do not require a four-degree but do offer multiple entry points for employment and the potential for career advancement and degree attainment.

 “TechHire is an example of how we’re preparing providing quick on-ramps to in-demand and well-paying occupations,” said Stefani Pashman, Partner4Work CEO. “In just a few weeks, job seekers have the skills they need to start a career, and employers have access to a skilled, motivated and diverse pool of talent.”

Teitz and the CodeFest cohort are learning to code through TechHire’s web development boot-camp, a 16-week intensive training program led by tech firm Mined Minds. The training concludes in May.

Teitz connected with TechHire late last fall when his mother received a flyer announcing the recruitment for the tech training opportunities.  Having worked for nine months as a web developer for a CMU startup, Teitz sought to expand his skillset and opportunity for employment by connecting with the program in the hopes that he’ll be better positioned for a career in IT.

“This program has taught me a lot about front-end web development and has helped me meet similarly interested people,” he said. “Businesses should look beyond a specific computer science degree and take a look at this group. These are passionate and dedicated people who are willing and able to code.”

Businesses interested in meeting, mentoring, or hiring TechHire trainees or learning more about the program, should call Rebecca Young, program manager, at (412) 932-2945. More information about TechHire Pittsburgh.