After 5 Years - What’s The Road Ahead? | 500 in 5

The final post in our 5th anniversary series of posts - looking back, taking stock, looking forward. Check out our other posts in this series.

When I started this series of blog posts celebrating our fifth anniversary I mentioned our goal to graduate 500 junior software developers by the time our anniversary class graduated. That goal was accomplished a few weeks ago when our 19th full-time day web developer class graduated. We’re now at 502 grads and counting.

Tomorrow we graduate our fifth anniversary class, cohort 20 of the full-time Web Developer Bootcamp. If everything stays on track for another 24 hours, we will have 21 new graduates by tomorrow afternoon, making our total 523.

Five years of sustained success and 500+ graduates is wildly gratifying for all of us at NSS. However, as we wrap up this series of posts I want to take a peek into the future for NSS. We’ve talked in this series mostly about what has happened over the past five years and why we made some of the crucial decisions that contributed to where we are today. But the energy of our team is actually focused on the future, not the past.

All of us on the team at NSS, both the staff and our Board of Directors, are thinking about how we best move forward from the base we’ve already built. We’re trying to make sure we understand what’s critical to preserve as we move forward - in other words, how do we not screw up that which is essential to who we are and essential to continue to have the right kind of success moving into the future.

And we’re also trying to best understand the options that our past success has created for NSS. Which options fit into who we are and who we want to be five years from now? Which options create new career acceleration opportunities for motivated adults? Which options continue to build and enrich the tech creative community and the Nashville community? Which options help employers find and develop more great talent right here in Middle TN and which help attract more high potential talent to our region?

Second acts are hard. For all the difficulty in realizing an initial vision for a startup, second acts are in many respects harder. Now there is not only a new vision to conceive and achieve, there is an existing legacy to protect, nurture, and grow. But, it’s a great problem to have - you don’t get to worry about the second act if the first act is a flop. We are lucky to have such a good problem and the great opportunity to decide and shape what NSS will be in another five years.

We have already laid down a few early trail markers for where we might be going. With the launch of our first Data Science Bootcamp, we’re investing in opening another entire technology career domain through intensive vocational training. A year from now we’ll have our first graduating class starting their first roles as data analysts, data engineers, data scientists, or data-powered decision-makers. Based on all the trend lines, careers built at the intersection of data engineering, analytics/stats, and software engineering is going to be a huge growth area for many years. I certainly anticipate that this area will be an important part of NSS five years hence.

Another possible piece of the future is digital product design. We’ve launched our first program that integrates UX and UI design with deep front-end engineering. We’ll continue to offer our successful part-time, evening UX/UI professional development course. And we’ll see how demand in this area evolves in the future.

We are also very excited about the potential associated with the launch of ApprenTech Tennessee during 2018. A true registered apprenticeship program with support from many of Nashville’s key technology shops is, in our view, another major step forward in the entire region coming together behind a serious talent development mentality. We’re proud to be the first designated training partner for ApprenTech Tennessee and to be working closely in partnership with the Nashville Technology Council to launch this important new initiative.

I’m sure there’s more to come in 2018 and 2019 beyond what I’ve mentioned above. We’ve made commitments to a few additional strategies that we’re not ready to talk about but which will build on the programs and strategies discussed above, as well as on our existing platform, in ways that have the potential to further enrich the career opportunities we can offer to students as well as provide support for additional parts of our community. Stay tuned for more during 2018.

I couldn’t be more energized than I am right now by the combination of our past success with 502 (going on 523) graduates combined with the new strategies we’re unfolding over the next 12 to 18 months. I wonder what the next series of major anniversary posts will be called: 1000 in 7? 1500 in 8? 3000 in 10? (I think I just made some of the team very nervous…) I’m not sure, but it’s going to be another fun ride.

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