Deep Dive

Inside Career Services at Boot Camps Powered By edX

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Last updated on May 26, 2021

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edX partners with over 50 universities across the country to offer technical boot camps across the US. Kyle Martinowich, a Career Director and Career Coach at edX, explains how their team gets students job-ready with the career support and job search skills they need to land the best position for them. Plus, find out which roles edX-powered boot camp students typically land after graduation, and what sets edX boot camp graduates apart in the hiring pool. 

What is your role at edX and how do you work with boot camp students?

I've been a Career Director and Career Coach for the past four years with edX. I currently support students in nearly all subjects, including web development, data analytics, UX UI, project management, cybersecurity, and other programs across the tech sector. I help students learn how best to navigate the job search process and make a transition into their field of choice.

Most boot campers attend a boot camp in order to get a job – are edX-powered boot camp students’ goals similar?

The beauty of our boot camps is that the program doesn't just tailor to career changers looking to transition into a completely new field. I support students who want to upskill to jump internally with their current company or upskill to gain a fresh perspective and connect with a team of developers in their current role. For example, a edX-powered boot camp student may be someone who is in a project manager role making a transition into a technical project manager role where they're speaking to a team of developers. In that case, they could enroll in our boot camp to learn how to best feature or present different platforms and projects. 

When do career services begin for edX-powered boot camp students?

We offer career services starting at the beginning of the program by encouraging students to draft and edit their resume, brand statement, and portfolio. We initially encourage students to get their materials up-to-date before applying to positions, and the Career Material Advisor team supports students with feedback and critique on how best to present themselves on their materials. We want to ensure students are putting their best foot forward for opportunities in the market. I help students navigate their job search to become competitive in the market.

From there, we typically tailor our career services to the interest of each student. We encourage students to reach out to us if they want to connect via Zoom or phone with their Career Director. 

What does edX's Career Services team do to help students find jobs?

There are so many different phases of a job search, and sometimes graduates don't always understand how the process works. The Career Material Advisor team does a fantastic job tailoring students' and graduates' resumes and career materials, making sure they're employer-ready. We take it a step further, helping students become competitive in the market and separate themselves from other candidates applying for the same role. We provide resources for students to guide the job search outside of just applying to jobs online. That includes networking and connecting with people in the field and attending events and meetups in their region.

Besides the feedback that students receive from our Career Material Advisor team, my role is to help them navigate the job search: where to look for networking events, how to reach out to people over LinkedIn, following-up about applications, negotiation of salaries, and interview preparation. I teach students to correlate the skills that they're learning from the boot camp into a technical end, ensuring that they represent their projects as a professional experience rather than just projects from a boot camp.

How do you prepare students for job interviews remotely? 

Our Workforce Engagement team builds events and workshops for students while they're in the program. These are accessible to both students and alumni. With these different events come technical and whiteboarding interview preparation. Our team of Career Directors support students to prepare for technical interviews on the whiteboarding end to make sure they feel comfortable. We want to ensure that students are confident in their interviews and understand that it is often about the thought process over the correct answer. We provide resources that have helped our graduates succeed in the technical interviewing process.

Do you help students with negotiation and compensation?

Directors support students not to overvalue themselves and not oversell themselves in this process. We provide resources for the best wording to negotiate salary in the interview setting or over email so that students are putting their best foot forward while appreciating the offer they received. We ensure that students feel confident with a position that they're accepting. 

Are career services delivered centrally from edX or are there different career teams at each university boot camp?

Our Career Services Team is spread across the US and globally. Our team is split up by region and we oversee different program offerings within these regions of our team. You may have a Career Coach that is centralized near the university or you will have a Career Coach who lives in a different state but has worked with the university in the past. We have the ability to send students market driven resources based on where a student is and we can offer a different perspective of an area they may be interested in relocating for. 

Initially, career services was centralized in a specific location of the university partner, but then we saw the value of bringing the perspectives of different markets to students at various universities. There are many benefits to us being more regional and supporting several universities in various regions across the United States. I was initially supporting George Washington University, and when we became more remote, we ended up supporting regions of universities that we partner with. Now we offer our students perspective on how specific markets work at certain locations as well as how their interview processes work. For example, I can provide perspective to a student looking to move to Florida as to what the regional markets are like, and how different resources tailor to those markets. 

Why should a career changer choose an online coding boot camp in 2021?

Attending an online boot camp gives you more flexibility with your time. Online boot camps also give you more perspective on using digital platforms to communicate over the web. We use different platforms in our boot camp that many workforces use to communicate internally with employees. The process makes folks more comfortable navigating online platforms to meet project expectations and work with geographically dispersed teams. 

What types of jobs do edX-powered boot camp graduates typically land? 

For our coding boot camp grads, students can go down a path of front end, back end, or full stack opportunities. On the front end, I've seen students apply to roles like web designer, UX developer, front end developer, React developer, or even HTML email developer. On the back end, students apply for SQL developer, JavaScript developer, database engineer, or software developer roles.

Our UX designer boot camp grads land roles as UX/UI designers or researchers. Data analytics boot camp grads may find success in data analyst, data scientist, or even business analyst roles, depending on experience. For our cybersecurity students, they may apply for NOC analyst or SOC analyst, IT specialist, or digital forensics roles. 

We've also seen students make vertical transitions within different fields. For example, we’ve seen that sometimes a Data Analyst might become more of a Web Developer in the long run because of what they've learned at the boot camp. 

Do salaries vary for alumni based on university and location?

Salary, of course, varies by location. I always encourage students to look at the size of a company. I've seen salaries at startups match those of Fortune 500 companies because they want to invest more into one individual than several team developers. That's where research comes into play. We have so many different alumni from our programs, so students can ask around and connect with alumni from other areas to see what different salaries look like. 

On average, how much time do edX-powered boot camp students spend on the job hunt?

It varies. We've seen many students land jobs before graduating the boot camp because they took advantage of our support and career services. We've also seen students find success three to six months after graduating. It all depends on how a student is navigating their job search process. 

How does edX directly connect students with career opportunities during and after the boot camp?

We have an Industry & Insights Team that does a fantastic job of connecting with employers looking for a mass hire or even individual hires. We've referred thousands of boot camp students. Although we don't necessarily guarantee placement on our end, we do, of course, refer students to connections and employers that we're building partnerships with. Then, it's up to the employers to reach out to specific individuals that they're interested in connecting with and interviewing. 

We recently launched a hiring event with several hundred employees and attendees. In the past, we've done demo days where students have the opportunity to present their projects and applications to employers, recruiters, and alumni from our programs. Those events were in person before COVID. We transitioned our demo days into the virtual space during the pandemic, which has been a phenomenal success. Even if students didn't connect with specific people individually, they gained significant insight on what to say during the interview process and how best to respond to technical questions

What are employers looking for in today’s developers that edX-powered boot camp grads typically have? 

There's so much diversity in edX's offerings, and everything included in our curriculum is in direct response to what's available in the current market. We offer many resources and services that other programs don't, such as courier services, feedback reception, one-on-one conversations with Career Directors, and alumni resources. 

Moreover, this isn't just a program offered by edX. It's a partnership with the university, and a boot camp student being aligned with a particular university stands out to potential employers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a tough job market. Are you finding that employers are still hiring coding boot camp grads now?

I haven't really seen a slowdown in the tech job market, and our boot camp graduates have continued to land interviews and receive offers. The tech industry is always hiring, and tech has always been remote. Being on location or going into the office isn't necessary for developers, data analysts, or UX/UI designers. 

How can boot camp grads assess if a company is the right fit for them?

We take an individualized approach with students, making sure they're looking at the pros and cons of each position. We make sure that students don't simply take a job to get their foot in the door; we want to ensure that they are taking a job because they're interested and invested in the company. We ask students these questions during our one-on-one coaching call: 

  • What is your why? 
  • Why are you interested in this field? 
  • Why are you interested in this position? 
  • Why are you applying to or accepting this role? 

Once we understand the student’s goals, we provide resources and insights to make sure that they are passionate about the role they're accepting.

What can edX-powered boot camp students expect to have in their portfolios when they graduate? 

Many fields require that candidates have a portfolio, and we take our insights from different employers and what they want to see from candidates. We have tailored our curriculum around the programs that should have a portfolio when applying for jobs. A portfolio can be distinguishable for a candidate, so we provide resources and a set of guidelines on how to present oneself and projects they've completed during our program. We've seen great success from students that have a portfolio polished for the field. 

For those boot camp grads currently on the tech job hunt, how do you recommend they incorporate their past work and education experiences into their elevator pitch, cover letter, or resume?

One of the initial milestones that we have students work on is a brand statement. We help them correlate their prior working experience and education into their resume. Just because previous experiences might not be in the field of tech, there are so many correlated skills that you can learn from other industries, whether in management or project oversight. Our individualized approach allows students to leverage their experience in hospitality or retail, for example, into the field of web development, UX UI, or project management. 

Does edX continue to support boot camp graduates in their job search even after they graduate? 

We typically provide active career support for students three months after they graduate from the program, but our career services don’t stop there. For our alumni, we provide unlimited support, such as resources and events. We continue to support students for as long as necessary because we want to see success from our graduates and alumni. 

Tell us your favorite student success story!

One student had no bachelor's degree and only had retail and restaurant experience. He had some bumps in the road where he received rejections from employers he was interested in. I supported this specific student with networking, connecting with people from our boot camp, and attending workshops. It was nice to see that he found success from networking on LinkedIn and connecting with different meetups rather than just cold-applying to jobs and hoping one position stuck. The student found success as a web designer for a start-up, which gave him the excitement of growth and opportunity. Now, he’s currently worked his way up to a Back End Developer position.

Find out more and read reviews of edX-powered boot camps like UT Austin Boot Camps, Berkeley Boot Camps, and Penn Boot Camps on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with edX.

About The Author

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps. With a background in writing, teaching, and social media management, Jess plays a pivotal role in helping Course Report readers make informed decisions about their educational journey.

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