Interface Web School Cultivating Tech Talent, Collecting Small Business Honors 8/6/16 09/06/16 11:32:50 AM
Printer Friendly Version
Shonna Dorsey, co-founder and managing director of Interface Web School, has racked up nearly a dozen honors since the school launched in 2014. She says she is “working to improve the lives of others through technology.”
Interface Web School Cultivating Tech Talent,
Collecting Small Business Honors
“Tech is fascinating to me, and it empowers people,” said Shonna Dorsey, co-founder and managing director of Interface Web School.
Launched in 2014, Interface offers everything from 1-to-2 day workshops to more immersive 7-to-11-week web development courses that meet three nights a week. Students range in age from six to 60-plus. Many of the instructors are full-time web developers.
“We’ve had people go from being welders and baristas to being web developers, project managers and account executives for tech-consulting companies. For someone to tell me, ‘Shonna, due to the training, I’ve quadrupled my income,’ it’s incredible,” Dorsey shared.
Omaha entrepreneur Mark Hasebroock, founder of Dundee Venture Capital (DVC), and Beth Engel, DVC’s first partner, approached Dorsey with the idea for Interface in mid-2013. She admitted being skeptical at first.
“I come from a traditional education background, and I thought, ‘That is how you train people. That’s the way.’ But I did some research and found these programs are very successful on the coasts.”
And now, a similar program – an alternative training resource for people who want to get into tech – is proving very successful here.
“We’ve helped introduce over 500 people to web development through our courses and free workshops so far. We’ve helped over 100 people transition into new careers or enhance their skills to provide more value in current positions,” Dorsey said.
Prior to launching Interface with Hasebroock, Engel, Jerod Santo, Jake Stutzman and Seth Carlson, Dorsey served as a project management consultant for Sogeti. She has found a special level of fulfillment in her current position.
“Interface has been the ultimate expression of my desire to have a job that I absolutely love and give back to the community,” she said.
Growth and development has been steady over the last two years. Interface has expanded its course offerings. Its students have built applications for various area nonprofits – from Banister’s Leadership Academy to University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health. Interface recently partnered with Bellevue University to provide opportunities for Interface students to earn credits toward a bachelor’s degree.
Dorsey says Interface’s key challenge, right now, is being a young school in a competitive market.
“We continue to tell our story, our students' stories and build relationships based on our commitment to ways in which all of our partners can experience positive benefits through working with us,” she said.
Interface’s ultimate goal is twofold: Build people’s knowledge and skills for the Web and increase the supply of technology talent for startups, small businesses and corporations in the Midwest – objectives that align naturally with a recently unveiled, regional Strategy for Advancing Tech Talent Growth.
The Greater Omaha Chamber, AIM and a collection of over 100 stakeholders coalesced last year to develop the initiative. It seeks to enlists business and education to grow the region’s tech workforce by 4,000 workers over the next five years. Interface is among those stakeholders with a seat at the table, working hard to do its part collectively and individually.
“I love being a part of a business with a core mission of helping people change their lives and our community for the better,” Dorsey said.
She also loves that Interface has been named the Chamber’s latest Small Business of the Month.
“It’s unbelievable!” she said. “We are excited to be included among so many other past winners we both respect and admire. This is an incredible honor.”
Dorsey, herself, has earned significant recognition for her impact in tech. Just last May, InformationWeek named her the 2016 Women in Technology category winner at the organization’s Elite 100 conference in Las Vegas. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in management information systems, Dorsey is also a Leadership Omaha grad (Class 37) and a 2014 recipient of the Midlands Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award.
“Since starting Interface, I’ve been working on creative ways to be involved in and engage the community and develop relationships with professionals at all levels. One of my favorite ways to do this is to offer free introductory to web development workshops to different audiences at places like Do Space, Flywheel, Oxide Design, Omaha Public Library branches, Aromas Coffeehouse and Agape Red.
“By August 2015, I had personally introduced over 200 people in the community to web development via these free workshops – and I don't have any plans to stop.”
Dorsey also serves as part of the organizing team for the Omaha Public Library’s Girls Who Code Club, an Interface partner organization.
She is optimistic about the future of the web school she helped to launch.
“We are actively involved in the startup community and are always looking at the market to determine training options that will provide the best opportunities for placement after graduation from an Interface course.”
For more information regarding the Interface Web School, please go to: https://interfaceschool.com.
United Republic Bank sponsors the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month award. To nominate a small business online, visit www.omahachamber.org. Nominees must be current Chamber members with 50 employees or less.