Love Your Life

Popular Houston coworking space hosts event that's all about the hustle

Networking and collaboration are encouraged at WeWork. Photo courtesy of WeWork

If you have a side hustle — and these days, who doesn't? — you won't want to miss this event. WeWork and the Houston Rockets are hosting a party and panel discussion about the art of the side hustle and creating a life you love.

On February 27 from 6-8 pm at the WeWork in the Jones Building (708 Main St.), you can sip, snack, and listen as the panelists offer up their advice.

Set to share are CJ Paul, Chris Paul's brother and manager; Mario Elie, Houston Rockets legend and three-time NBA champion; Gretchen Sheirr, chief revenue officer for the Houston Rockets; David Gow, CEO of Gow Media, InnovationMap's parent company; and Roniel Bencosme, WeWork Houston's community director.

All attendees will be entered for a chance to win a basketball signed by the Houston Rockets players.

Paul is president of CP3, LLC, a nonprofit corporation founded in 2005 that strives to positively impact individuals and families by leveling the playing field in education, sports, and life. The foundation's emphasis on community involvement has won it the NBA's Community Assist Award three times in Chris Paul's 10-year career. The foundation partners with Feed the Children, Make-A-Wish, Salvation Army, B&G Clubs, LA's Best Afterschool programs, Leapz & Bounds, and a number of other organizations. Paul is also managing partner of Ohh Dip!!! Productions and oversees CP3 Basketball Academy.

Elie was drafted in 1985 by the Milwaukee Bucks and played 11 seasons before retiring. He won two NBA championships with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and '95, and then another with the San Antonio Spurs in '99. In 2007, Elie was inducted in the New York Basketball Hall of Fame, and was named one of the top 10 players in Houston Rockets history. That same year, Elie began his coaching career with the Dallas Mavericks and currently works as an assistant coach for the Orlando Magic.

Now in her 18th season with the Houston Rockets, and her third as CRO, Sheirr is responsible for the sales, service, and overall revenue strategy for the organization. In 2017, Sheirr was named one of Sports Business Journal's Forty Under 40, which annually recognizes the top young professionals in sports business. She is also a founding board member of WISE Houston, serves on the board of Target Hunger, and is a member of the Executive Women's Partnership.

Not only is Gow head of InnovationMap's parent company, but he also oversees CultureMap, SportsMap, and GiftingMap, and he owns the highest-rated sports radio station in Houston, ESPN 97.5FM, and SB Nation Radio, one of the country's largest national sports radio networks. Prior to entering the media business, Gow was first CFO and ultimately the CEO of Ashford.com, a company that grew from $1.2 million up to over $50 million in revenue. As CFO, Gow managed a successful IPO, raising over $75 million with Goldman Sachs as the lead underwriter. As CEO, Gow grew a profitable corporate gifts business to complement the company's e-tailing business. Ashford.com was sold to GSI Commerce in 2002.

Come early or stick around to check out this WeWork location, which is housed in a building full of history. The Great Jones Building originally housed offices for Texaco when it first opened in 1908, but now, more than a century later, WeWork claimed it as its first Houston location.

A modern layout gets a few Art Deco touches — a nod to the JP Morgan Chase building next door — along with an impressive collection of local artwork. Incredible views, cozy coffee corners, a new-mothers' room, and micro-roast coffee, fresh fruit water, and draught craft beer are just a few of the awesome amenities that WeWork members can enjoy.

Reserve your free Side Hustle tickets here.

Coding camps continue to grow and expand in Houston. The most recent comes from the University of Texas. Getty Images

As Houston's innovation ecosystem grows, the need for tech talent grows too. It's why the University of Texas and workforce accelerator Trilogy Education decided to bring a series of coding boot camps designed to teach Houstonians the skills they need to excel in the fast-paced world of the tech economy to town.

"Too many working adults lack the skills to succeed in the digital economy," says Liliya Spinazzola, the senior director for professional education and strategic initiatives at the Texas Extended Campus of The University of Texas at Austin. "And that means that employers are lacking a talent pool."

The Houston Coding Boot Camp aims to change all that. The 24-week sessions teach web development and coding skills, allowing adults to take classes even as they're working. That kind of flexibility helps them increase their knowledge as they continue to build career paths.

Houston's seen a good amount of growth when it comes to new coding camps. Digital Crafts, for instance, grew from an inaugural class of eight students to 125 people in just two years. Women Who Code saw a need for female coders in Houston to have a network, and now the city has a newly launched chapter.

Student success
So far, 260 students have completed the programs, going on to work at companies such as JP Morgan, IBM, and Deloitte.

One of those is Rebecca Gemeinhardt, now a full stack developer at Shell. She graduated with her bachelor's in graphic arts from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2017, and found that she missed being in a classroom. When she started the boot camp, she was immediately drawn to the challenge the subject matter offered, as well as the flexible schedule.

"The boot camp was just as formidable as the curriculum promised but extremely fulfilling," she says. "Going into boot camp, I didn't tell anyone I was doing it — what if I struggled and couldn't get through it? I kept it a secret until I found the confidence to identify as a developer."

Once she completed the program, she was hired at Shell.

"My life had changed so much in just six months but definitely for the better," Gemeinhardt says. "By focusing on the ability to adopt new technologies, [the coding boot camp instructors] left us with the invaluable skill of being adaptable and fast-learning full stack developers. This has helped me immensely at my current position as we are always incorporating new languages to our architecture depending on individual project needs."

Filling the need
Spinazzola says the camps deliberately try to create environments that foster the level of problem solving and exploration Gemeinhardt describes. The program partners with employers to discover what skills are most needed, and tailors the curriculum to dovetail with them. She says the skills most in demand right now are coding, cyber security, IT project management, and digital marketing.

"We also look at job description data here in Texas to see what skills are listed," she says. "And while students are in the program, we have a robust network that engages with them upfront, talking to them about what jobs are out there. And we host career fairs where they can show off their portfolios and discuss their skills set with potential employers."

Spinazzola says that students come from all walks of life and employment backgrounds, and that 26 percent of the participants are women. With 25 students per boot camp session, the small classes make for deep instruction. UT offers between three and fours sessions in Houston each year. She says that she finds participants are looking to either break into the tech sector, learn new skills or re-train to be able to advance their careers. The average age of students is somewhere in the low-30s, she says.

"We had a student who owned a cooking school and wanted to start a new career," she says. "[Rebecca] trained as a graphic artist and wanted to be a developer. One student shut down his medical practice and says that he wanted to learn coding so that he could go work for a pharmaceutical company. To me, that's the beauty of this program. These skills are in demand, and our students are able to take what they already know and enhance their abilities to be able to take on new career paths."