Multidisciplinary tech bootcamp Startup Institute aims to prepare all their students to find great jobs they can excel in after they graduate. Startup Institute has already published an outcomes report detailing their job placement rates, but we wanted to know how they achieve those impressive statistics. We spoke to the Startup Institute Career Placement team, to find out what the career process looks like, what employers like about Startup Institute grads, and what sort of jobs grads are already in.
What does the Startup Institute Career Placement team look like? How large is the team?
The career placement team is comprised of the same individuals who you’ll work with most closely throughout your Startup Institute experience – your program team.
Led by your city’s program director, the program team is responsible for creating the career growth opportunities we’re known for. They curate instructors and guest speakers, connect you with companies looking to hire, facilitate career planning workshops, chart your individual progress, and meet with you in weekly one-on-one’s to discuss your goals and develop action plans to achieve them. Once you graduate, we’ll continue to support you, providing in-person career counseling, résumé review, and salary negotiation.
At Startup Institute, we believe it takes a village. The program team in your city will consist of three to four full-time staff members who are committed to helping you land a job you’ll love. But it doesn’t end there. Our alumni and instructor community, by extension, is incredibly supportive—helping in the effort to connect our students with the opportunities and people they need to meet in order to find that right fit.
When does the job placement/preparation process start at Startup Institute?
The job placement process begins during our admissions cycle. Every element of our program is focused around the end goal of getting you to a job you love, so the very first step in that process is to answer one big question—is this program a fit?
Currently, about 18% of people who apply to Startup Institute get accepted. Why are we so selective? It’s because we’re outcomes-driven: we want to make sure we can help you achieve the outcome you seek.
Your interview process will focus in part on your goals and interests so our team can understand what you’re looking for and if our program can help you get there. Being outcomes-driven means we won’t move forward with your admissions process unless we see a match in terms of where we think you’ll realistically land once you finish the program.
Your acceptance into Startup Institute, kicks off our job placement process in two ways—it ensures we understand what your career goals are, and it confirms you’ll be a culture fit for many of the companies that hire graduates of our program.
What have you found are some of the unique challenges bootcamp students face when starting the job search? Are there any benefits to being a bootcamp student (over a CS grad for example) in the job search?
Bootcamp education is still relatively new to the market—we’re in the early-adopter phase. While respect and acceptance for alternative education models is on the rise, some less innovative companies will be slower to come around.
There’s a learning curve on the part of these employers—they’re used to the traditional undergrad to graduate school model. But that model is becoming less relevant in the fast-moving innovation space. No matter how good the college that you went to is, chances are in the 21st century, by the time you’re five years out of college, your education is not relevant enough for you to continue to be successful in your job. People who don’t continually learn, and sometimes go back to school, are going to lose their edge.
To that point, companies also need to learn and adapt in order to keep their edge. This is where the bootcamp grad can really shine. These are people who’ve proven they have the grit and desire to learn—building a brand new skill set in a very short time. They’ve focused on building the skills that matter to the companies they want to work for.
“A computer science degree gives you a lot of background and a lot of context to lean on, but I have yet to see a college that is teaching modern languages. You’re not going to have a course in building web apps on Rails in a software engineering degree.”
Theory and lecture are great, but the old model doesn’t move fast enough for the modern innovation economy. The new economy is agile and efficient—just like bootcamp grads.
What sort of advice do you give your remote students for creating their online presence (LinkedIn, Twitter, personal website)? How important is that in the career search process?
A successful job search involves knowing how to position yourself within the market. At this point, LinkedIn is essential for all tech and business professionals, and Github is standard for web developers. Twitter and a personal website or blog can be great tools to develop your personal brand, learn from and communicate with industry leaders, and to share your work. Our in-class immersive trains students to leverage these tools effectively.
Does Startup Institute host a hiring day or demo day for employers?
We do! Talent Expo is our signature recruiting event. We turn the traditional career fair on its head to showcase our graduates in a room full of CEOs and hiring managers. As a student, you’ll take the stage to pitch your skills, ambition, and hustle—in 60 seconds—to a talent hungry audience. Then, you’ll work the room to meet potential employers and schedule interviews.
Talent Expo is a wonderfully energizing event, and is a great way to kick-off your post-program job search. Learn more about Talent Expo with this video about our eight-week immersive.
How do you help with negotiation and job offer consideration?
We’re very hands-on throughout the career placement process. We’ll help you navigate the market, understand the different roles available, and ensure you negotiate a favorable salary. Throughout the program, you’ll participate in workshops centered around negotiation skills and etiquette. Then, once you graduate, you’ll have the dedicated efforts of our program team at your disposal for another two months.
What types of companies have hired Startup Institute grads? Do you ever work with recruiting firms? Can you give some examples of the sort of jobs your graduates are in now?
Startup Institute graduates land a wide range of jobs at high-growth companies, mostly in the innovation sector. We rarely use recruiters to help our grads find employment after the program. Our objective is to help our graduates find a job they love—not just any job—and we find this isn’t the case with many recruiters.
The list below will give you an idea of the types of positions our graduates end up in. Keep in mind that, because graduates end up working in companies ranging from 2 to over 2000 people, titles can be somewhat deceiving in terms of that alum’s actual impact and job function.
In your experience, what do employers like about Startup Institute graduates?
Employers love hiring our graduates because they’re high-impact people who put the company mission first. The thing we hear again and again is our graduates have the skills and attributes that really matter—the qualities they attribute to the highest-performing people in their organizations; qualities that map to great leaders, such as adaptability, strong collaboration skills, and a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
The interdisciplinary nature of our in-class immersive means that graduates of our program also have a well-rounded understanding of their role in the big picture of an organization. Whether web development, UX design, or digital marketing, they’ve built skills in their individual learning tracks, but they’ve also applied these skills to real projects on cross-functional teams. The result of this is our graduates are able to communicate and work synergistically with professionals across departments and be more effective agents of change.
We’ve interviewed our hiring partners about what they like most about Startup Institute grads. Check out the video interviews to hear it from them.
Do you have formal agreements with hiring partners? Are they paying to be part of your hiring network?
Yes—we have a robust network of hiring partners who are actively seeking talent to grow their teams. Our hiring partners pay for access to our student and alumni communities and are granted exclusive invitations to certain networking events, in-class workshops, and career fairs. We’re selective with our partners. It's our goal to bring in companies that are growing, and looking for the type of people graduating our program. It's all about fit.
That said, our mission and priority will always be helping our students find jobs they love. Students are not limited to our partner companies in their job searches. Ensuring our graduates find the right job is more important to us than our high career placement stats, so we’ll actually advise a graduate against accepting an offer if we believe the opportunity won’t be the right fit for them. We encourage and help our graduates to explore opportunities within our partner network and beyond in order to find the best opportunity for their career goals.
Have you noticed that employers are looking for a specific programming language knowledge or specific soft skills?
We’ve done extensive research on this topic. 92% of hiring managers and executives we surveyed report that soft skills are as or more valuable than technical skills. Of this number, 25% say soft skills are more important. We’ve developed our curriculum to target both.
As far as programming languages go, the market is constantly changing. What was the hot language last year will not be two years from now. Regardless of whether you have a CS degree or built skills at a bootcamp, much of coding is learned on-the-job. At Startup Institute, we want our web developers to be impactful as quickly as possible, which is why we make our curriculum as authentic as possible. Working on real-world projects, our developers get to see the challenges that arise, and our interdisciplinary approach means they become better problem-solvers, and more forward-thinking about creating scalable products that anticipate the needs of the business.
Do employer partners have influence over the Startup Institute curriculum? Is there a feedback loop in place?
Absolutely, we’re constantly iterating on curriculum in response to student surveys and market feedback.
Our reputation for providing employers with top talent is critical for maximizing opportunities for our students and alumni. So, we listen hard to feedback from our hiring partners, and if they’re identifying a shortcoming in our curriculum or job-readiness, then that’s something we’ll take very seriously as we iterate for the next cohort.
We also have partners teach classes, since all of our classes are industry-led, so we've built in opportunities for companies to teach the skills they know graduates will need.
What is your current job placement rate at Startup Institute?
According to our most recent audit with edBridge Partners, 28% of students get jobs before completing the eight-week immersive. 54% of students have jobs within 30 days, 76% have jobs within 60 days, and 92% have jobs 100 days out.
What statistics do you have about job satisfaction?
88% of respondents in our third party audit reported they’re happier in their jobs after doing Startup Institute than in any jobs prior. This is the data point we’re most proud of.
We think a big part of this might be in the amount of choice our graduates have coming out of the program—in this study, 57% of our graduates received two or more job offers. When people have more choice in their career, it will increase the chances that they’ll end up doing something they love. We are focused on finding ways to create even more choice for our grads.
For more information on our career outcomes and how we arrive at these, check out our outcomes report.
Do you have a job placement guarantee at Startup Institute?
No, we do not have a job placement guarantee—no organization can promise that. This is a team effort, and one in which you must be an active participant.
We won’t accept you into Startup Institute unless we truly believe the program will successfully launch you into a great new career path. The people who are not successful are the people who don’t put in the work.
How long do you continue helping your graduates find jobs after they graduate?
Our dedicated career support program lasts for two months beyond graduation. During this time, you’ll have weekly one-on-one and small-group mentorship sessions to check-in on your progress, develop personalized action plans, get introductions to people in our network, practice interview skills, get tough feedback, discuss the pros and cons of different opportunities, strategize through negotiation processes, and more. We’re here to help you through every step of the process, as is your cohort and the community you built throughout your Startup Institute experience. That may be the best advice we can offer an incoming student—don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’ll be amazed by the support you get in return.