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Change at the checkout: New coders revamp St. Louis grocery store’s IT system

All seven LaunchCoders in this year’s program have been offered full-time jobs with Save A Lot at the end of their apprenticeship.

ST. LOUIS — We’ve seen some of the highest numbers of workers in history leaving their jobs to start working elsewhere during the pandemic. 

One of the fastest-growing industries is tech and IT. 

There's a program in the St. Louis area giving people the chance to code for the first time, and their work makes a difference for shoppers. 

When you’re shopping, you want the process to be as smooth as possible. A partnership between Save A Lot and the nonprofit organization LaunchCode hopes to help. 

Jennifer Hopper, Save A Lot’s Chief Information Officer, said, “Once you’re in the technology space it opens up the world.”

The grocery giant is using coders trained through the St. Louis-based LaunchCode program to help complete a full IT system overhaul. 

LaunchCode trains and places people in web and software development jobs for free. The work of their ‘LaunchCoders’ makes all the difference, even in the check-out line. 

Hopper said the team is “working through everything from supply chain to retail operations to our internal systems taking that into the next generation and leapfrogging into more advanced technology.” 

The team of seven has been working on all that and more and they’re all new to coding. 

“They bring a fresh perspective. A varied background. From DMV employees to school teachers to individuals who have just moved to the United States," Hopper said.

New to coding, and to the United States is LaunchCoder Nestor Zumaya. 

“I moved to St. Louis in 2020 because I got married to my now wife. Before that, I lived in Mexico and Scotland and there I was a medical doctor," Zumaya said. “I realized that wasn’t the only way I could help people. I could take another career path and still be able to aid whoever is in need.” 

Nestor isn’t the only one switching fields in what's being called the ‘Great Resignation’. More than 4 million workers quit their jobs in January 2022 alone.  

People are in search of things like better pay, the option to work from home, and the chance to get into industries that are only going to grow -- like tech. 

Nestor says career changes can be scary. But it’s worth it on the other end. He tells our reporter, “Yeah. I made it. I can actually do this. From now on, it’s just improving.”

All seven LaunchCoders in this year’s program have been offered full-time jobs with Save A Lot at the end of their apprenticeship. 

Click here to learn more about LaunchCode.