It’s no secret: career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math — otherwise known as the STEM fields — are rising fast. And learning to code is one way to get a foot in the door of this hot career market.

Coding classes are increasingly attracting college grads who want better jobs, according to a Bloomberg story last year. Canada is home to plenty of them, with classes offered by public libraries, universities, and organizations such as Ladies Learning Code, a not-for-profit organization promoting digital literacy for women and youth, with chapters across the country, and Vancouver-based Lighthouse Labs, which also runs web developer bootcamps in cities like Toronto, Halifax, Calgary, and Montreal.

There’s also HackerYou, a coding bootcamp provider based out of Toronto. Workopolis chatted with a few faces of HackerYou to get a sense of how coding skills are helping modern Canadian job seekers.

Hacking the job hunt

Launched in 2012, HackerYou welcomes more than 600 students every year to a custom-designed 12,000 square foot downtown learning centre. The popular programming space is the brainchild of Heather Payne, the Toronto-based entrepreneur who also founded Ladies Learning Code.

Ryan Christiani, head instructor and development lead, says HackerYou offers courses on topics like basic web development, interactive web applications, front- and back-end development, U/X, design, and more.

“We have all sorts of people coming in from all sorts of backgrounds and disciplines — some right out of school and some who’ve worked for awhile — and seeing them coming out with new skills is so exciting,” Christiani says.

Typically, HackerYou students go on to work at agencies, become freelance web designers, or transition into project management, he adds.

“A program like ours, where it’s very fast and intensive and immersive, really helps people get into those jobs — and there are plenty of STEM jobs out there right now,” he says.

A different type of education

“HackerYou gives you the tools to create a new career,” says Aurelie Dufour, a U/I developer and HackerYou student. “It’s not just the technical skills, but they help you understand what to expect in the workplace.”

With small class sizes and a 10:1 ratio of students to instructors, the HackerYou experience is a totally different experience from packed university courses or solo online classes. It’s hands-on, and the rapidly changing curriculum means students are learning up-to-date skills. (The facility might also become a registered Private Career College down the line, pending the approval of their application with the province. The full-time bootcamp course is on hiatus until then.)

Dufour’s fellow student Jennifer Taylor, “stumbled into coding” after a stint in marketing. She says HackerYou, where she took both part-time courses and the bootcamp, paved the path for her to become a U/I developer.

“Coding is never a waste of a skill,” she adds. “Even if you’re not doing development, so many other jobs rely on it.”