Israel Tech Challenge is a non-profit coding education program based in Tel Aviv, Israel. We spoke with Lauren Glass, Data Scientist, Enrollment Specialist (and an ITC Alumna herself) to learn more about the ITC.
What motivated you to start ITC?
Facts are facts: the world needs more engineers. Every country and corner of the technology industry is seeking talent. Engineers are a hot commodity. Engineers are also seeking unique high-level specialization trainings in fields like cyber security and data science. Israel, the Start-up Nation, knows how to train them.
Israel Tech Challenge’s (ITC) goal is to foster talent and a community, to open the door for talented individuals by training them in the most in-demand technical skills so they can bring about technological advancements in Israel and the world. To date, ITC has cultivated over 400 graduates of over 16 short-term and long-term programs.
Today ITC offers a high-tech pipeline providing immersive programs for people with varying ages and backgrounds – from full-stack coding to Data Science and Cyber Security specializations.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your teams’ background before starting Israel Tech Challenge?
ITC has cultivated a brand based on excellence and industry collaboration. Over the past three years ITC has fostered a special partnership with top technology companies, such as PayPal, Microsoft, Checkpoint and also numerous start-ups. They participate in the ITC community by lecturing, mentoring, recruiting, and providing hands on projects for on-the-job-training.
The founding team and the network of technology experts who contribute to the ITC community are experts from the local tech-ecosystem. They are team leaders, cyber specialists, academics, and graduates of the Israel Defense Force’s Intelligence Unit called 8200. ITC was established in 2012 by two such people, a duo of entrepreneurs, Oren Toledano and Raphael Ouzan, who both immigrated from France in their younger years and are graduates of this prestigious 8200 Unit.
What challenges have you overcome to launch ITC?
Like any organization, the toughest challenge is to find the right people for the challenge. Learning to new technology is always a challenge. However, doing this in Israel and its fast-paced technology industry is a journey. It is not for the faint of heart. It takes ambition, independence, and motivation. All applicants are checked for these characteristics in order to ensure that they can reach their highest potential with us.
What have been some successes you have had with your first few cohorts?
We know that we are making an impact by the work we do. ITC alumni have gone to work in highly esteemed tech companies after only a few months of training. This is such a success for us because we see all participants graduate and continue on to coveted roles in the technology industry. The 5-month coding bootcamp graduates have immersed in companies like Wix, Cybereason, Redhat, and others. Moreover, a subject close to our hearts, ITC continues to grow a balanced gender ratio.
In our last Bootcamp cohort, we achieved 50-50 split of men and women. Creating a welcoming culture has been our goal since the inception of ITC.
Any advice for students looking to join a bootcamp?
Deciding to learn to code or deepen your knowledge in it is the point where your life is about to change. You will gain the most in-demand skills of our generation and influence our industry. We advise you to put 100% into the application, dig into coding tutorials ahead of time, make the most of the time with the lecturers, and treat all assignments like your big break. This way you will advance your career and the industry as a whole from the very beginning.
What dreams do you have for ITC over the next few years?
Our dream is to create an official framework to support our alumni’s enterprises. We are already so impressed with what our alumni have achieved. We want to extend the learning environment to include company creation where they put their skills to work.
What sets your curriculum apart from other bootcamps? What types of resources do you offer for learning?
From the very beginning we focus on the end goal: becoming a developer in the technology industry and getting a job in the field. We have lectures and exercises like other programs but we also work on assignments that are real products like games or chatbots in a small classroom setting. Then after several months of intensive learning, we will place participants in on-the-job training. They get industry experience and references for their resume by working with real production code at a company.
Additionally we provide networking resources to our participants throughout the entirety of the program. Participants are matched with an industry mentor to help in the learning process and when they join the workforce. We also organize hackathons and demos where participants can present to companies looking to hire. Students have Ulpan classes (Hebrew classes) where the teachers accommodate ITC participant’s schedules. Participants are also supported by the highly active alumni community that is always eager to help. Also did we mention our organized activities like tours and happy hours with the technology community?
Transitioning into the working world is daunting as a new coder, so we structured the entire program to help participants make this career transition while still in our care. This is truly unique to Israel Tech Challenge.
How are lessons structured? Can you give us an example of a typical day in the course?
Our lessons focus on hands-on learning. We start the day with a lecture by an expert teacher which will last for an hour or two. Then the bulk of the day is working on exercises or developing a product using multiple technologies with staff present to help students. The week will then end with a tech-oriented social activity like happy hour on the famous Rothschild Boulevard.
Want to learn more about ITC? Find out more about the programs and read what alumni have to say here.