There’s never been a better time to break into the Chicago tech scene. Chicago startups have seen a meteoric rise over the last 10 years, increasing by 270% from 2008 to 2018, according to a 2019 report from The Center for an Urban Future. That growth in the Chicago startup scene has helped contribute to a similarly sharp growth in the number of available tech jobs in the Windy City.
So if you’re interested in learning whether a career in tech is right for you, attending a free Chicago coding class or Meetup offered by one of the groups featured below is a great way to start exploring the Chicago tech scene. By attending a local, free Chicago coding class, you can both meet other like-minded learners who are considering software engineering as a career path or simply looking to add an in demand skill-set.
If you decide to make a career change, there are any number of options to do so in Chicago. Like many other large cities with a growing tech ecosystem, there are many coding bootcamps in Chicago that can help you launch your new career.For full transparency, Flatiron School is one such bootcamp - offering career changing, in-person courses in Software Engineering and Data Science at our Chicago campus. We even allow you to get started in our in-person, Chicago Data Science or Coding Bootcamps with just a refundable deposit - while paying the rest of your tuition balance once you’re hired (see details). In addition, Designation offers UX/UI Design in Chicago too.
Free Coding Bootcamps in Chicago
If you’re set on making a career change into a more technical discipline, it’s hard to go wrong by attending one of the free bootcamps offered by City Colleges of Chicago:
Experience level: Beginner
Language/s: Swift iOS
Audience: Chicago Residents onlyThis free Chicago coding bootcamp is available through Apple’s Everyone Can Code initiative and in partnership with City Colleges of Chicago. Through it, students can take free Swift classes, with a curriculum developed by Apple, and are provided with the hardware and skills necessary to create iPhone and iPad apps.After completing the course, you can continue developing your Swift programming skills at local colleges and universities or pursue a job as an entry level iOS developer.
Classes run for 16 weeks, meeting 10 hours per week on two weekday evenings and once on Saturday.
Free Coding Classes & Meetups in Chicago
While the iOS Boot Camp above offers a more thorough grounding in app development, taking you from coding novice to entry level job-ready, the Meetup groups featured below generally offer programming classes that touch on a singular tech topic, opportunities to network with other aspiring software developers, or help walk you through your first steps of learning to code in Chicago. Each Meetup group listed includes a couple of past events so you can get an idea for the types of topics and technical depth covered by each group.
Girl Develop It is a national nonprofit that provides reasonably priced and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning to code. The organization also backs up its classes with a community of female tech professionals that provide mentorship and support to help encourage you in both your educational and professional journey.
While Girl Develop It Chicago does not have any upcoming Meetup events at the time of this article’s writing, if you think the organization could be a good fit for you then we recommend occasionally checking back on the group’s Meetup page or contacting the Chicago Chapter’s leader directly for ways to get involved.
Past Events: “Code & Coffee” and “Introduction to Python”
With chapters spread across the country, Women Who Code offers the largest community of engineers committed to supporting women in tech careers. As an organization, Women Who Code features learning resources and networking opportunities for novice coders as well leadership opportunities and a job board for more established professionals. Women Who Code - Chicago is a great resource for budding female developers as well as more experienced Software Engineering, UX/UI Design, and Data Science professionals.
Past Events: “Machine Learning: Tech Talk” and “React 101”
Past Events: “Creating Custom Babel Plugins & Data Pipelines for Charting” and “React for Complete Beginners and Serverless Applications”
Past Events: “Python Community Night” and “Python Project Night”
The only non-Meetup group on this list, Chi Hack Night is a free, weekly event in Chicago to build, share and learn about tools to create, support, and serve the public good.
Chi Hack Night’s mission extends beyond Software Development to encompass and unite a broad spectrum of technical professionals, uniting designers, academic researchers, data journalists, activists, policy wonks, web developers and curious citizens who want to inspire and promote civic engagement through technology.
Chi Hack Night starts every Tuesday at 6pm at the Braintree office in the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. The event is free and is open to anyone, whether they are professionals in a technical discipline or not.
Content Marketing Manager
Nick is the Content Marketing Manager at Flatiron School. He's comes from a background in travel and sports writing, as well as a few tech startups. He currently lives in Brooklyn.