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How to Prepare for General Assembly Immersives

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By Liz Eggleston
Last Updated December 1, 2020

As a Senior Admissions Producer, Kelly Killoran knows what it takes to excel in General Assembly’s immersive bootcamps. The 3-4 week-long application process is similar for software engineering, data science, and UX/UI design, with coding challenges respective to each. Don’t know where to start? Kelly takes us through the exact level of knowledge you need to know before you apply, and resources to propel you into your tech career. Find out what stands out in prospective students, from soft to hard skills, and how to get ahead in the admissions process. 

The General Assembly Application Process

Are there coding challenges in the applications for the Software Engineering, UX Design, or Data Science Immersives?

There is a technical challenge for all three of the immersives. 

  • Software engineering challenge covers HTML, CSS, or Javascript. 
  • In the Data science challenge, you’re given a set of Kickstarter data to analyze and make suggestions based upon your findings
  • In the UX Design challenge, you’ll redesign an application based on a few given prompts

We ask you to walk us through your code, analysis, or design; to ensure you can explain what you've done, that you've practiced, and that you have a strong vocabulary. From there we ask a few technical questions. 

Who will applicants be interviewed by during the process?

New applicants conduct the intake process with General Assembly's Admissions Team. The same Admissions Producer takes each applicant through each stage in the admissions process, including the interview. General Assembly's Admission Team is currently around 60 people, spanning across the US, Australia, Europe, and Singapore. The Admissions Team at General Assembly is committed to supporting prospective students to ensure that this is the best investment, timewise and financially. They assist with preparation, interviews, and course enrollment. It's also the onus of the students that they're doing the research and due diligence. If at any time you have questions, the Admissions Team is there for you.

If there are any discrepancies in the interview, if we have extra technical questions we can't answer, or if we feel like we need a second pair of eyes, we have the ability to pass on our notes to instructors to take a second look at, but during the interview process you'll definitely be with and receiving feedback from the Admissions Team. 

How long does the admissions process take at General Assembly?

Generally, the applications for all three immersives take the same amount of time – generally 3-4 weeks. You’re assigned a project, then you have 3-5 days to work on the project. We schedule a 30-45 min meeting to review it together.

How selective is GA for these immersive classes? What’s the acceptance rate?

Our ultimate goal is to help you transition into a career path that makes sense for you. If that means that the first interview goes poorly, we will give you a second chance to continue studying and try again in a few weeks. 

60-70% of applicants are successful the first time around in their interview process.

The Admissions Team is held accountable for folks graduating and getting jobs – the admissions process makes sure students are set up and excited to start.

Technical Skills vs Soft Skills: What You Need to Know 

What are the technical skills you need to get into a General Assembly immersive?

The immersives are fairly beginner-friendly, but through the admissions process we try to get students up to speed and build some foundations. Ultimately the folks who are great at building those foundations are able to hit the ground running and take on the challenge & intensity of the bootcamp more confidently. 

  • For the Software Engineering Immersive program, prospective students should have some foundations within HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript.
  • For the Data Science Immersive, we're looking for foundations in Python, plus additional foundations in math or statistics.
  • The UX Design Immersive is based less on technical skills and more on understanding empathy. Having previous work experience with customers, or in psychology or architecture or graphic design would be helpful. 

What kinds of soft skills are you looking for in applicants?  

We are looking for students who: are curious, resourceful, and have a growth mindset. They have questions, have tried to answer their inquiries themselves, and they've used different resources to find those answers. As well, being open to and asking for feedback is a good sign for us, as well as students who have a general excitement on the subject. 

How can applicants show off those soft skills in the interview? What's the secret to showing someone that you're curious in the application process?

A few hot tips: 

  • show diligence in communication (regarding scheduled meetings, following up on questions)
  • show resourcefulness and confidence in the application of online resources
  • be unafraid to ask questions

An applicant could display curiosity by expressing in our meetings, "I was curious about this problem, couldn't quite get to the answer, but this is the process I went through to try to solve it."

Thinking through and remembering in the interview which resources you used helps us understand that you have applied yourself and tried to teach yourself coding on your own. 

Filling the Gap: From Beginner to Application-Ready

How can someone fill the gap between feeling like a total beginner and getting to a place where they can shine in that type of interview?

First, create a well-rounded self-study plan by utilizing free courses online. A beginner can start with Dash, a free resource through GA to practice HTML/CSS/Javascript. This is comparable to free resources like Codecademy, Javascript Road Trip on PluralSight, freeCodeCamp, and w3Schools.

Then, you can move onto other Free Coding Resources like General Assembly’s Intro Courses which are live streamed with an instructor. These are great for folks looking to get used to the remote format, explore content, prepare for the immersive, get their feet wet with HTML/CSS or Python or wondering what the heck UX is!

Attend a Free Fridays workshop. These workshops will be longer and more intense than Intro classes and helps people get their feet wet or upskill. It's also a good way to see different events or subject areas you might be interested in.

To a beginner, it's so important to have that initial conversation with someone on the Admissions Team because we want to help understand where you're at and how to set you up for next steps. We can help figure out where your gaps are, what resources would be the best fit for you, ultimately ensure that if you're going to put in hours self-studying that it's in the right subject area; that you are working to your goals, have plenty of time to create the roadmap for yourself based on the cohort dates you're looking for (when you want to start or when you want to graduate).

For An Applicant with Coding Experience 

If you are someone with an intermediate understanding of software engineering, data science, or UX/UI, then you're probably ready to interview and advance through the process more quickly because you already have foundations set. Have the initial conversation and be ready and willing to go through the interview process, which is more explorative than scary. 

Be confident that no matter the outcome, we are there for you every step of the way. 

General Assembly Outcomes

What outcomes can General Assembly applicants expect when they graduate?

Every student enters General Assembly with an individual goal. For example:

  • Students who have a history working for Corporate and want to break into tech, want to be innovative, might be aiming for smaller, blooming tech companies.
  • Some students want to work in an established company, as they've worked in tech before and want to learn from a team that's been running for a long time and has strong processes. 
  • Others want a medium-sized company that has a great collaborative environment where they are offered their own autonomy but are still able to learn from others on their team.
  • Typically, students are looking for entry-level roles. If they have more career foundations or are searching within a similar industry to where they've worked before, they may be looking a little higher than entry-level. 
  • Statistically speaking, in 2018-2019, 91.4% of GA Immersive graduates who participate in our Outcomes Program found jobs within 180 days
  • 8.3% accepted a job offer after 180 days, meaning 99.7% of GA graduates participating in our Outcomes Program found a job within 1 year of graduation
  • GA grads have gone on to work at top multi-industry companies including Amazon, Charles Schwab, Dell, Google, Home Depot, IBM, and more.
  • GA’s full 2018-2019 outcomes report can be read here. 

Does someone need to know exactly what they want out of their career during the admissions process or can they decide during the bootcamp?

We challenge students to start looking into careers that are out there by reading job descriptions, but it's not necessary that you have a set goal. 

Through the course you'll have a career coach teaching you what roles exist, what other students have done, and how your resume compares to your dream role. Through the class they’ll teach you what that looks like. 

Then, post-course, they help you as you're applying for different roles to help best position yourself.

Find out more and read General Assembly reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with General Assembly.

About The Author

Liz pic

Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!

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