If you’re wondering what type of career help you’ll receive if you attend LearningFuze’s 14-week full stack coding bootcamp or part-time program, look no further. We chatted with Career Services Manager, Andreana Pettersen, to learn more about the job placement process and how they help students find roles as software developers. See why LearningFuze focuses on teaching students first how to learn, and Andreana’s expert advice on landing a tech role following graduation!
Andreana, what is your experience in career services?
Before I was the Career Services Manager heading Career Services at LearningFuze, I was a Senior Career Advisor and Internships Coordinator at a California State University. I’ve been working in career development since 2015 at a variety of campuses (both large and small) within the university system, often in positions of leadership and decision-making, so I’ve seen a spectrum of different approaches to career development. I hold a Master of Science in Counseling, and I am a professional Career Counselor by trade. I understand both theoretical and practical applications needed to help others navigate the world of work.
Tell us about the career services team at LearningFuze and how they guide students towards their first jobs?
LearningFuze has a comprehensive career services offering that is an integral part of the program and is completely incorporated into the curriculum.
Career development begins in the second week within the student's “Junior Side” curriculum (1st half of the program) in the form of in-class workshops on resume writing, networking, soft skills development, white boards, and creating a developer story. As a transition to the “Senior Side,” we conduct both technical mock interviews and soft skills mock interviews with students to prepare them for the job search once their final portfolio is complete. Additionally, we facilitate a number of employer related events such as our Lunch & Learns where employers address the students around a myriad of tech related and job search topics. As students finish their final portfolio and become graduates of the program, they have access to even more post-graduation programming and support from Career Services.
At LearningFuze, we also work with students around certain qualities and soft skills important to the job search. There's a huge emphasis on a growth mindset and developing resilience and grit as a part of the process to meeting a goal. Knowing how to overcome rejection in the job search and learning from the interviewing process is incorporated throughout the curriculum and in post graduation Career Services workshops.
LearningFuze also has a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary team, and every staff member and instructor are highly communicative and work together with individual students to provide 1:1 instruction and attention, thanks in large part to our low student to teacher ratio. We meet daily to talk about what’s going on in career services as well as the program in general and how we can support individual students and address their needs.
Do you believe that students should start the job search before they graduate?
We tell students to start their job search at the conclusion of the program and once the final portfolio is complete. It is really important to have a high level of focus in the program to acquire the competitive technical skills necessary to compete for jobs in the market. Their full-time job is the program — they code for 12+ hours per day, 6 days a week. On the job search side of the equation, we have workshops that prepare students for their job search, such as creating a resume, learning how to leverage LinkedIn, practicing interviewing skills as well as whiteboards. We want to ensure students are completely focused in the program to be best prepared to compete for jobs by the conclusion.
Did LearningFuze update its careers curriculum due to the large global shift in 2020?
LearningFuze is always working to update the curriculum, both on the technical side of the equation as well as with career services. As an example, we have added mock interviews with actual employed engineers in the marketplace to further help students continue to hone their interviewing skills. We also are always working to find the optimal approach to help students maximize their effectiveness in competing for jobs in the market.
You have such an interesting background in university career services, Andreana. What’s the main difference between university career services and bootcamp career services?
It’s hard to compare Career Services at LearningFuze to career centers at colleges and Universities because there is so much variation to the approach each college, and even each department within those colleges use. Some college career centers have some varying level of career development incorporated into the curriculum, while others stress the importance of using the career centers, but don’t make it a requirement for students' major or classes.
The co-curricular and individualized approach to Career Services at LearningFuze was a breath of fresh air to me! Our flipped-classroom approach is beneficial to both in-person and remote learners. We see each student as unique at LearningFuze — they have their own goals based on their own background. We know they have different elements within their life, including personal and financial considerations. Thanks to this holistic approach to Career Services at LearningFuze, we are able to see students as whole individuals and meet them where they are in order to plan where they’d like to be. If we see a student struggling in any capacity, we work as a team to address those concerns and support the student in whatever way we can.
What types of jobs are LearningFuze students prepared for when they graduate?
There is a growing trend in skill based hiring, especially for positions within the tech industry. While having a college degree (in any major) may provide an advantage for some employers, more and more companies are open to candidates who have learned the skills they are looking for outside of the traditional college system. Employers want to know:
It is our experience that the majority of companies are willing to offer a foot in the door without a college degree, so long as a candidate has the skills and qualities needed to be successful on the job. Additionally, we continue to see a decline in the requirement for a bachelor's degree in the market as has been the case over the last several years as employers simply want to know if a candidate has the skills to contribute to their team, or more accurately, their product. The majority of LearningFuze graduates are consistently hired for junior-level roles like Full Stack Developer, Front End Developer, and Software Engineer.
Can you give some examples of the sort of companies your graduates work in now?
LearningFuze grads have been employed by a number of high profile companies such as:
Overall, we often see students employed at small to midsize companies out of choice so that they are exposed to a large number of technologies and responsibilities to really continue to accelerate their learning. In addition, as with any industry the vast majority of companies (i.e. 80%) tend to be small to midsize. Some graduates however, prefer to target larger companies and really plan their search with that in mind. However, the primary focus should be on getting a foot in the door to gain valuable experience. After a graduate lands a position, compensation typically increases dramatically within as little as a year or two as long as there is performance on the job of course. The key is developing the skills needed to break into the industry, which then opens up possibilities at any kind of company.
The technical interview is notoriously tough. How does LearningFuze train students to get through that process?
We conduct mock interviews, resume reviews, mock whiteboard interviews with senior instructors and discuss the importance of soft skills and effective presentation in an interview. In addition, employers often come to the facility to address the students and provide valuable perspective on the importance of soft skills, culture fit, and technical skills. Finally, we offer students the opportunity to conduct mock interviews with senior engineers in the field to really gain perspective on how to best prepare.
Is there a Job Guarantee at LearningFuze?
LearningFuze will continue to help students until they find a position. If a student successfully finishes the program, they will obtain a position in the industry as long as they are willing to put the work in to their search in coordination with LearningFuze and bring all job search methods to bear including diligent posting for position, networking, leverage their personal network and taking advantage of any LearningFuze provided opportunities.
In your experience, what do employers like about LearningFuze graduates? What makes LearningFuze grads different from other developers?
LearningFuze teaches very deeply in the technologies most needed in the marketplace. This is to ensure students have a sound and fundamentally strong understanding of those languages that are most critical to employment and allows students to readily learn any new technology as well as perform well in interviews. The LearningFuze program emulates a worklike experience so students not only learn the technologies, but also how to function in a Dev environment. Our motto is that we want to produce students we would want to hire in the commercial marketplace!
What does a LearningFuze + Hiring Partner relationship look like? How do students engage with the employer network at LearningFuze?
LearningFuze builds relationships with employers in a number of ways. We keep an eye on the job market for open positions while using our existing network to scour the hidden job market, positions that aren’t even posted. Many junior-level web development positions aren’t posted and are found through networking. Often we reach-out to employers to inquire and build relationships, but often they reach-out to us for candidates. It’s a pretty regular occurrence for an employer to hire one LearningFuze graduate, and return for more potential recruits once they see the quality of candidate we offer. Just this week, a high profile employer contacted us directly through our website because they recently hired a graduate and were impressed with how that employee was able to hit the ground running with little experience but a strong skill set, so they contacted us for additional candidates for their open positions! Our alumni are often a great resource for referrals and leads as well. We are a tight family at LearningFuze, and often our alumni will contact us when the company they work for is hiring.
Not only is networking a major theme taught throughout the program, we do whatever we can to create opportunities for employer engagement. We offer regular Lunch & Learn events, guest hosted by a professional in the field. This event is primarily for educational purposes for students to gain valuable insight on how to land their first job, but it’s also a networking opportunity and a way to build relationships! We are also offering a Post-Grad Technical Mock Interview Program which offers technical mock interviews with real industry professionals. Again, this is primarily for educational purposes, but any opportunity for a graduate to have face-to face time with an employer or industry professional is golden! Employer networking and engagement is a daily focus for Career Services.
Does LearningFuze match students with employers?
As relationships are built and employers inquire about candidates, we will provide graduates in the job search with those leads, which has a major advantage over being an unknown person applying online. We establish the connection, but it’s up to the graduate to land the job. Their ability to perform in an interview is very important, and we provide extensive practice and support with interview preparation.
Does LearningFuze have current stats on acceptance rates, job placement stats, and average starting salary for graduates?
Those students that are engaged in the job search process, meaning they have completed their portfolio, continue to look for a position and are consistently accessible and in contact with the career services staff results in a hiring rate on average of between 93% and 95% which may vary from one cohort to the next. We share this statistic primarily so students know that if they are engaged and really going after the job search they will invariably be employed. Taking into consideration all students (both engaged and those that are unengaged) results in an employment rate of around 80%. This is measured within a 6-month timeframe so does not include graduates that are employed outside of that timeframe. We really encourage and work with students to stay engaged so that we raise the probability of landing employment within the defined period of time and as close to the conclusion of the program as possible.
How does LearningFuze admissions impact career outcomes?
You should understand that the admissions process at LearningFuze is rigorous to ensure students are not only ready for the program but have professional ready skills by the conclusion. We ensure that the students we admit are here for the right reasons, have made some intentional decisions on why they want to join the program, and they have the capacity to be successful in the program. The bootcamp isn’t easy — it's an accelerated program. Its two years of education in 14 weeks and therefore requires a high level of commitment and some level of technical preparation before admittance. There is nothing better than building projects in an educational environment as long as students are ready for the commitment.
I recommend students be prepared to reflect on why they’re applying to the bootcamp, and why they’re passionate about learning web development. Take time to reflect and have a clear understanding on why you’re joining LearningFuze, and how that is going to help you achieve your career goals. If you feel Software Engineering is a fit then the experience of learning is a blast and the career is highly rewarding!
Jess is the Content Manager for Course Report as well as a writer and poet. As a lifelong learner, Jess is passionate about education, and loves learning and sharing content about tech bootcamps. Jess received a M.F.A. in Writing from the University of New Hampshire, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
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