Most students enroll in coding bootcamps to get a job as a developer. Learning to code, however, is only half the battle. Everyone who has spent time searching for a job knows that the process of getting hired can be long and sometimes discouraging. Thinkful’s Career Services are built to address that problem by giving students the skills and support necessary to conduct an organized, successful job hunt.
“1-on-1 support is the keystone of a Thinkful education — whether it’s learning web development with a mentor or planning out your job hunt with your career coach, you always know someone has your back,” Stephanie Bermudez, Career Services Manager at Thinkful, explains. “Graduates meet directly with their career coach for a 1-on-1 session weekly, and can join in on a daily standup with Liz and me. Together, you and your career coach craft your plan to make sure you have a healthy funnel of job prospects, and make sure you stay on track to land a job as soon as possible.”
Such intensive 1-on-1 support yields strong results. As of the end of January 2017, Thinkful’s independently audited jobs report showed that 94% of graduates were hired as full-time developers within 6 months of graduating the course. But how do students who were beginners only a handful of months ago ramp up so quickly to be effective web developers and job hunters?
“Career prep, in order to be successful, needs to start well before graduation. Students build capstone projects, which they can add to their professional portfolio,” Liz Parsekian, Career Services Manager at Thinkful, says. “Combine that with mock interviews, design reviews, and constant mentor support throughout the course itself. We make sure that our students have all of the hard skills and soft skills needed to stand out in today’s competitive environment.”
Indeed, a significant handful of Thinkful’s students are hired before they complete the coursework and enter the full-on job search. According to their January jobs report, over 40% of Web Development Bootcamp students actually find a job before their official graduation date. Doubtlessly, this number is fueled at least in part by strong professional capstone projects and career advice baked into the course.
Mock interviews, in particular, are one such piece of career advice that pushes students to demonstrate their understanding verbally. Many applicants can build production apps, but companies are also looking for team members who can clearly communicate how an app works, why certain engineering decisions were made instead of others, and in many cases, to explain why a given product is important.
“When students are given the chance to practice articulating these aspects of their work,” Stephanie added, “they feel much more comfortable in real interviews. That kind of confidence is make-or-break when it comes to leaving a great impression on a hiring manager.”
Thinkful also focuses on several other ways to build student relationships with hiring managers, including making direct introductions between students and companies in their area. Such warm introductions not only break the ice for students to begin their application process on a strong footing, they also provide prospective employers with the assurance that a credible institution is putting their reputation behind an applicant. While there is never a guarantee that a given employer will hire any candidate, this is a strong benefit for Thinkful graduates.
“We also see several companies who have hired Thinkful graduates return to us, asking us if we have any new developers looking to work with them,” Liz offers, “we work hard to build these relationships, but in some cases, the credit belongs to our graduates. When they impress an employer to the point that a hiring manager says ‘I want someone else with that education,’ the graduate definitely deserves a lot of credit for doing great work.”
With all of the connections and training in place, Thinkful also explained that a consistent process is necessary for a successful job hunt. “Job hunts are stressful, so one of our aims is to make that easier on students. Having that 1-on-1 attention with a career coach who can empathize with you is crucial,” Liz explains, “but when you have your session each week with your career coach, it’s also about establishing a drumbeat of progress.”
Thinkful pushes students to constantly make incremental progress towards a goal. “It’s a lot like agile processes students are likely to use in the workplace,” Stephanie adds, “one alumnus actually reached out and told us that he was more comfortable working in a remote job that used agile processes, since he got so accustomed to it with his career prep standups. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about in a nutshell: Helping you land your first job as a web developer and preparing you to excel once you’re there.”