In an effort to close the employment gap for women in tech, Perficient has partnered with Hackbright Academy to offer a new full-time software engineering program called Bright Paths. We caught up with Tom Hogan, Perficient’s President and Chief Operating Officer, and Andrea Lampert, Perficient’s Vice President of People, to hear how the Bright Paths program gives aspiring women coders the foundational skills needed to become a software engineer. This is a fantastic opportunity for motivated women and the inaugural cohort for the Bright Paths program kicked off in March 2021 in Detroit! Find out how the Bright Paths program nurtures its students and graduates with supportive career services and job placement. And apply here!
Tell us about Perficient!
Tom: The customer experience is at the center of everything we do. Perficient is the leading global digital consultancy transforming how the world’s leading enterprises and biggest brands connect with customers and grow their businesses.
Digital technology has forever changed the business landscape, and we believe it has the power to push businesses forward and enable them to outpace the competition and exceed customers’ expectations.
Never before has it been more important for businesses to embrace digital, especially in today’s environment. Businesses must invest in digital technology as a means to better connect with their customers and deliver on an experience they have come to expect, and we’re seeing a huge demand for our end-to-end digital services as a result.
How large is the engineering team like at Perficient? What are engineers working on?
Tom: Perficient has more than 4,500 colleagues worldwide, each delivering critical work that supports our company and moves our clients and their business forward. We partner with the biggest technology companies in the world like Adobe, IBM and Red Hat, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and Sitecore. Those partnerships give our colleagues the opportunity to leverage their individual areas of expertise and collaborate with one another across any technology stack to deliver end-to-end digital solutions for our clients.
Our team of trusted experts is comprised of business consultants, technical consultants, and QA consultants who collaborate across teams, technologies and time zones to deliver digital solutions that drive meaningful connections and memorable experiences.
What does Perficient look for when hiring new engineers?
Tom: Our software experts are passionate about development and dedicated to the customer. We look for colleagues who are ambitious with their ideas, who are engaged in work that challenges them, who are eager to provide technical support that powers impactful experiences, and who seek collaboration with some of the best and brightest people in the industry. Our people are guided by a shared sense of purpose and collective commitment to excellence.
What is the Bright Paths program?
Andrea: Perficient’s Bright Paths program is designed to advance STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented constituencies and communities, and will help close employment gaps that exist in the technology industry, especially among women and minorities.
We’re partnering with Hackbright Academy, which is owned by Strategic Education Inc. (SEI), an education services company focused on advancing economic mobility for working adults, to create relevant learning experiences that prepare students for the workforce, and further drive innovation and growth in the technology industry.
Perficient is fully funding the Bright Paths training programs in order to provide opportunities to ambitious, deserving, and committed candidates who otherwise might be unable to pursue them.
There are so many coding bootcamps these days – why is Perficient partnering specifically with Hackbright Academy?
Andrea: The employment gap for women in the technology industry has been well documented. In fact, research shows that the number of women serving as computing professionals has experienced a long period of decline. We wanted our first Bright Paths program to focus on women in technology to begin addressing our industry’s shortcomings in our own communities. That’s why we are partnering with SEI’s Hackbright Academy, an all-women’s coding bootcamp and software engineering program. We kicked off the program in Detroit on March 1, and are thrilled to welcome 25 women to the fully-paid, customized coding bootcamp.
Is there an ideal candidate for this program?
Andrea: The program is open to any woman who’s interested in working in tech, regardless of their background. We look for opportunistic and creative candidates who are results-driven, analytical, detail-oriented, and have an insatiable desire to learn new skills and grow their careers.
What will students learn in the Bright Paths program?
Andrea: The curriculum for each Bright Paths program will focus on educating students about the fundamental concepts of software engineering and commonly used programs. Students of our first Bright Paths program in Detroit are attending a full-time software engineering course where they will learn Python over the next 10-14 weeks.
Are graduates of the program guaranteed a full-time software engineer position or internship at Perficient?
Andrea: Our goal is to extend a number of qualified graduates of the Bright Paths program a full-time job at Perficient in the software engineering and development field, where the new colleagues will partner with some of the world’s largest enterprises.
However, we expect that some participants will want to explore technology job opportunities outside of consulting, and we plan to help those individuals receive job placements elsewhere, possibly at Perficient’s clients. We are going to support their career journeys.
How many Hackbright Academy bootcamp grads has Perficient hired so far?
Tom: This is Perficient’s first time partnering with Hackbright Academy as part of our Bright Paths program. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Hackbright Academy, and the broader learning pathways offered by Strategic Education Inc., in the future. Our hope is to introduce similar programs aimed at educating individuals and creating opportunities in the communities where we operate. Perficient is located in more than 30 communities across the world, so we think there is ample opportunity to scale Bright Paths going forward.
Andrea: Since our partnership with Hackbright Academy in Detroit is the inaugural Bright Paths Program, we are excited to see how the cohort progresses through the curriculum. We look forward to hiring qualified graduates to join our growing team.
How does Perficient support its new junior-level developer hires?
Andrea: Perficient has a number of onboarding initiatives that help new colleagues assimilate to their new roles, teams, and projects. Plus, our colleagues are innately collaborative and eagerly welcome new team members by guiding them through the transition process. It makes for a great foundation for mentorship, creating additional career development opportunities in the future.
Perficient has some of its roots in Detroit – what is the Detroit tech scene like in 2021?
Tom: Perficient is headquartered in St. Louis with more than 30 locations across the world, including Detroit. Detroit has a very active and advanced technical community, including multiple incubators and several startup companies. The close proximity of numerous quality universities and continuous public-private co-operations are driving advances in research and development to solve the world’s transportation, energy, and climate challenges. Rapid acceleration in both the electric and autonomous vehicle sectors of the automotive industry is increasing demand for software engineers for every stage of software development, including front-end development and back-end integration. On top of that, there’s a strong need for data analytics to help understand and interpret the mountains of data that is being collected at all levels from users, machines, vehicles, intelligent roadways, and numerous other IoT devices.
Why is it important for Perficient to support and nurture women in tech?
Tom: For too long, the tech industry at large has fallen short in creating opportunities for underrepresented constituencies and communities. We recognize that the responsibility to help drive equity throughout the broader industry falls on us. Our goal with Bright Paths is to create more equitable career opportunities through in-depth, hands on education opportunities in our global communities.
What is your advice for new software engineers who are women looking to transition into tech (and grow as engineers)?
Andrea: Patience is a key component when transitioning from one job to another, yet alone an entirely new field of work and industry. Bootcamp programs like Perficient’s Bright Paths are designed to give participants the foundational knowledge they need to jumpstart their new careers. However, new software developers aren’t going to come into their new roles with the comprehensive command of the discipline. It’s something that they will continue to refine and develop over time. Knowing when to ask for help will also ease the transition process. At Perficient, we pride ourselves on our people and our collective nature to lend a helping hand to all colleagues as they grow their careers.
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