Prior experience used to be the greatest barrier to entry at Springboard. But the Springboard team recently launched Foundations courses to help incoming students with no previous tech knowledge get accepted into a Springboard Software Engineering or Data Science Career Track and graduate with a $20,000 increase in salary. Find out from Springboard’s Amy Umaretiya what you can expect from a Foundations course (hint – live mentoring is key!), how long they take, and how to get started.
How do you support students at Springboard, Amy?
I’m an Associate General Manager at Springboard for our B2C courses, and I’m currently focused on our Foundations & Core initiative. I work on creating more accessible pathways into our courses that have historically required prerequisite experience or backgrounds.
Why did Springboard decide to add Foundations to the program?
We realized that there are prospective students who want to change careers into software engineering or data science, but they aren’t able to pursue those courses because they lack prior experience. Skills like programming can serve as a barrier to entry in most bootcamp programs, even more in our data science and software engineering courses.
Foundations prepares students who want to enter a tech field be able to succeed in a Springboard Career Track. Foundations now gives more beginner-level students access to Springboard Career Tracks. We already had an intro-level curriculum to work with and we decided to create an end-to-end pathway for these students. The Foundations program ensures that no one’s background is a limiting factor if they want to pursue a tech career.
What is included in the Foundations curriculum?
So far, we’ve launched Foundations for software engineering and data science. We cover the fundamentals of the languages that are most relevant in each respective field.
What kind of format does Springboard use to teach Foundations? Is this an online classroom?
Foundations works within our asynchronous Springboard teaching model. Students watch recorded videos and then apply what they learn through practice exercises. This ensures they have an understanding of the concepts they just covered.
Foundations is supplemented with live mentor calls and office hours with student advisors, career coaches, and community managers where students can get answers to their questions or support for difficult concepts.
Who are the mentors for the bootcamp?
The assigned mentors for Foundations are the same mentors for these students throughout the course! This fosters the one-on-one mentorship we want our students to have. They have access to other mentors like our on-call staff in addition to their regular meetings.
In general, our mentors are industry professionals with at least three years of experience working in their respective fields so they’re super knowledgeable. They know which concepts our students are learning, so they can help them understand the material as well as giving them critical help to develop their portfolios. The students work on capstone projects and the mentors are essential for shaping, scoping, and reviewing to make sure students have portfolios they can be proud of when they present them to hiring managers.
Will students in Foundations also have access to the larger Springboard community while completing this program?
Our Slack communities are based on which field a student is interested in. Our Foundations students will have access to other students in Foundations, and also students in the regular career tracks. There’s so much curriculum overlap and we find it helpful because they can ask questions and seek help from students who have interacted with the field already. They can also interact with our course community managers in those channels who are experts in the field.
How long does it typically take students to complete Foundations?
It depends on the student. We find it takes an average of 6-8 weeks, but some students can fly through the course in a couple of days. It also depends on how much they need to refresh or learn. In data science, we go over both Python and probability. Students might have a good understanding of one and only need to cover the other. They might take half the time since they don’t need to go through all of the units with the same level of depth.
How does Foundations factor into Springboard’s application process? Does every incoming student complete Foundations?
All of our students go through the same admissions process and start by taking the technical skills survey. They have an interview with one of our admissions directors and that along with their test determines whether or not they’ll start in the Foundations unit.
Does a beginner need to pass Foundations in order to be accepted into the bootcamp?
When a student is completing Foundations that means they’ve been accepted into the bootcamp.
Do you still recommend that beginners applying to the bootcamp do some self-teaching first?
What types of tech roles is Foundations preparing students for?
We envision that Foundations plus Core (the full curriculum) will help them become Junior Software Developers or Data Scientists in the field. They’re meant to train up for the same jobs as our normal career tracks in the end.
Do you think students who pass Foundations will see a boost in their salaries at the end of the bootcamp?
They will end up in the same place as any of our regular career track grads. At the end of the bootcamp, students can expect to see about a $20,000 increase in salary when they get a new job in the field.
What have you noticed about the most successful career changers this year?
I’ve noticed how proactive they are in the job search. When they want to change careers, they don’t wait until they’re done with the curriculum to start on their job search strategy. They treat it as a parallel initiative. We see them book calls with their career coaches in the first week of the program because they know it gets them mentorship on two ends.
The career coaches let them know what it takes to get a job in the field and the mentor for the curriculum teaches them that material and fills in the gaps. They should be working on both at the same time.
What is your advice for students embarking on a program like this?
Be proactive. In addition to booking calls with career coaches early, take advantage of the full support offered at Springboard. If you’re struggling to debug something, don’t wait for a week to get help. If you can’t get past a practice exercise or you’re struggling with a concept, reach out to our Slack community. Odds are that someone has already asked that question!
If you’re falling behind on your pace, set up a meeting with your student advisor and create an accountability plan with them to help get through the course. Be aware of all the resources available. At Springboard, we know that changing careers isn’t an easy task. We provide a lot of support for that very reason.
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