Course Spotlight

Landing Your First Tech Role with App Academy and HTD Talent

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Jennifer Inglis

Edited By Jennifer Inglis

Last updated on June 18, 2024

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Landing your first tech role can be a difficult process without previous technical experience. To ease the transition and prepare recent graduates for the workforce, App Academy has partnered with HTD Talent to offer eligible bootcamp graduates a client-customized training program that simulates the working environments of Fortune 500 companies. HTD Talent Co-Founder Chris Wascak explains what is covered in their rigorous training program, how trainees are lined up with 12-month contracts at respected companies, and how App Academy graduates can stand out in HTD Talent’s admissions process.

Tell us about HTD Talent! What is HTD Talent’s mission?

After nearly a decade at two of the biggest competitors in the Hire Train Deploy (HTD) industry, my partner and I started HTD Talent to prepare the next generation of tech professionals to hit the ground running at Fortune 500 companies. We build pipelines of custom-trained, next-generation, diverse tech talent for the biggest companies in the world. 

Prioritizing graduates of computer science and STEM subjects from diverse backgrounds, we offer a 6-12 week client-customized training program that simulates the exact tech team environment they would work in. Our training is focused in many areas such as high-end full stack software development, Cloud, Data, Production Support, PEGA, and more. After our students complete training, they are deployed to any client location needed on a contract-to-hire basis, the aim being that they convert to full-time employees, thus making them the next generation of technology professionals.

Why has HTD Talent decided to partner with App Academy?

We are the premier quality provider in the hire-train-deployment space and most of our clients see the need for a foundation in computer science. In our 8-week training program, graduates earn up to two years of industry-equivalent experience! 

After talking with App Academy, we realized our clients were missing some top talent because they were looking specifically for computer science college graduates. We saw that most bootcamp graduates from App Academy were able to perform just as well as those with a computer science degree, so we expanded our internal proprietary screening process to include consideration of bootcamp graduates from their program. We are now looking for App Academy bootcamp graduates who have a baseline tech knowledge that can support them in the intensive HTD Talent training program. 

How are you now working with App Academy students?

We're running a monthly seminar to explain our upcoming training and the opportunities that are there. From there, the people who meet the criteria will be started through our internal screening process with our recruiting team. If they're one of the top people and they pass every aspect, they're invited to train with HTD Talent after finishing App Academy.

Is HTD Talent a free program for trainees?

HTD Talent candidates never pay for this program. It’s what flips the bootcamp model on its head. Our model guarantees quality and outcomes. The barrier to entry isn't how much you pay us; it’s if you’re the best candidate for this position and if you’ll be there long-term. 

We fully invest in our candidates. We want to take away all of their concerns about money and part-time jobs, etc., so they can focus full-time on the training because it is hard. Not everybody graduates. If someone isn’t keeping up with the curriculum, isn’t acting professionally, isn’t showing up to work on time, or can't work in a group, we let them go from the program. 

What You’ll Learn at HTD Talent

What is the overall curriculum like at HTD Talent? Does it differ from App Academy? 

Unlike a college program or a coding bootcamp, we are an enterprise technology simulation. We work with the company that we're deploying to and understand their specific tech environment and how their teams work, and then we simulate that environment in our training. 

Overall, this is a full-time, online, instructor-led program at 40+ hours a week with deadlines for every module for 6-12 weeks. Beyond learning the theories of new technologies that the client needs, we train people how to apply them in an enterprise technology environment and how to understand other people's codes, work together in a team, and communicate effectively to stakeholders what they’ll experience on the client side. 

It’s intense for a reason — when students finish the training, even if they're not experts on everything the client will look for, they've been exposed to enough that will prove them to be a valuable hire. They’ll be able to prove they can:

  • Learn new concepts
  • Learn new technologies independently
  • Pick up concepts quickly 

Clients are satisfied that when they introduce something new, the candidates have already proven that they can absorb information and learn it quickly.

Does HTD Talent offer career services within the training program?

The whole training is career coaching. During the training program, we have subject matter experts who conduct the training and impart their knowledge of how to use the information in their enterprise environment. After the training, we have account managers and consultants who build a customized continuous development track for people while they're on contract with us before they convert to full-time. 

We work with them and their managers to build ongoing training for technologies they may be exposed to on the project. If there are certain certifications that the manager thinks they would benefit from, we'll pay for them to train and get certified. If there are networking events in their area that they think will help advance their career, we'll pay for them to join.

We're not just invested in the great training program we give people. We're invested in their long-term success! When they are a contractor for twelve months with us, they're already on the path to being exactly who they need to be when they become full-time employees.

How many students are in each training cohort?

Cohorts are typically 20-25 people, but we only hire 1-5% of people who apply based on their knowledge and certain job fits.

Since the training is cohort-based, can trainees reach out to each other for support? 

You're not going to go on a project at a major Fortune 500 company and be all on your own — the training we model is enterprise-simulated, so you're working in groups. You all have different responsibilities. You have to communicate and work in Agile methodologies to accomplish tasks. There's a lot of documentation and understanding other people's codes because you have to make new iterations on existing projects to make sure you're able to accomplish what you need.

It is heavily reliant on other people, and people in our cohorts form a unique bond. A lot of people get deployed to the same client to work on the same project — some become roommates when they move to a new city! It’s a cool community of people who love technology. 

Getting Into HTD Talent

What is the application process like for the HTD Talent program? 

It starts with a soft-skills interview followed by aptitude tests, problem-solving, and a coding challenge graded by a technology subject matter expert. It ends with a technical interview with the subject matter expert who will provide the training.

You mentioned prioritizing marginalized identities in your program — how is that being reflected in your cohorts?

Recent HTD Talent data shows that those who have been deployed were over 70% diverse and over 35% female. 

Is there an ideal candidate for the HTD Talent program? 

The ideal candidate is somebody who passes the proprietary screening process. We’re looking to see if you:

  1. Understand the foundations of coding and OOP concepts
  2. Can communicate effectively
  3. Are a sponge for information/interested in learning 
  4. Pick up concepts quickly
  5. Act on your feet
  6. Are interested in technology 

Students who are building keyboards and programming on their own because it’s what they love to do are the ones who thrive in this industry. They’re hungry for that first Fortune 500 logo on their resume, so they can jump-start their career. That’s who we’re looking for! 

Do people need to have a college degree to get into HTD Talent’s training program?

Most of our clients require a four-year degree but our work is driven by client needs so if they want to prioritize certain initiatives, like veterans returning to work or community college grads, we can find them what they’re looking for. 

How can recent App Academy graduates stand out when being considered for HTD Talent’s upcoming cohorts? 

Be confident in what you learned in your App Academy training. Be confident that even though you may not know what’s next, you already went through a rigorous course and were able to pick up on certain things. Have confidence in yourself. You can be the best coder in the world now, but gone are the days of companies hiring you, sticking you in a corner, and telling you to code with headphones on. You have to be personable! You have to be able to speak to stakeholders effectively and communicate your work. You need to be somebody who people want to be around. The best people who break into this as junior talent technologists are the people who are all-around good communicators and have the soft skills to go along with their technology knowledge.

Landing a Tech Job Through HTD Talent

How does HTD Talent line students up with companies?

We work back from what the client needs. We'll get a certain number of roles and then customize the curriculum for them. Then we go back to our talent funnel and find trainees who would be the best fit for those jobs. It has to fit the technology, the location, the timing that people need, and more. When we open up a job, we sometimes get 3,000 people applying for it, but clients typically commit to 10-20 trainees at a time. 

Are there certain companies or industries that like to hire HTD Talent graduates?

Historically, this hire trade deploy model has been heavily utilized by the financial services and banking industry. We also deal with companies in the insurance industry, retail, and transportation — basically, any Fortune 500 to 1000 company that brings on junior tech talent at scale is an option to utilize models like this. 

What kinds of tech roles will graduates of the program be eligible for?

Because our model takes people (often recent college graduates) and gives them intensive custom training, they come out with about a year and a half of industry-equivalent experience. This experience bridges the gap between entry-level and mid-level roles. That’s why our companies find working with us so valuable because we don't compete with their existing programs.

What is the average salary that HTD Talent grads can expect?

Typical starting salaries are anywhere from $60k-$70k a year and we give pay increases every six months they're on-site. In 12 months, if they aren't converted to full-time employee status at the company, they will get another raise. If they aren't converted by 18 months, they get another raise. Then typically in two years, they've almost always converted to full-time. 

How long is the contract?

Typically, it’s a 12-month contract-to-hire. For clients, there's absolutely no cost-risk or commitment before new hires get on-site billing. We screen and hire talent and pay trainees during training. We take care of all the training costs, including all the relocation costs to the client’s site. We invest $20k in each candidate before they ever make us a cent. We take all that cost and risk and put it on ourselves, which is why we need to find the best talent and be successful long-term. 

The client company only starts paying once our trainees show up on-site and are successfully contributing to their projects on a 12-month contract. After 12 months, they can convert the associate for no additional cost to their full-time employee. 

Does HTD Talent expect trainees to relocate for a job?

Our requirements can include relocation. If someone isn’t prepared to relocate, then we let them know that there might be upcoming programs for certain cities they're interested in. Transparency has been a problem in the hire train deploy industry and is something we aim to fix. Anybody who comes into HTD Talent will know the possible locations we are deploying to, the client, the curriculum, and any other important information. We want to make sure that this is the right program for them and not force them to come into our program and go wherever we say. 

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

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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