Online coding school Thinkful offers career placement services to graduates of their Web Developer Flexible Web Development Bootcamp, and so far 93% of their graduates have found jobs within four months of graduating. Thinkful Community Manager Bhaumik Patel tells us how the career placement works, what sort of jobs graduates are getting, and explains the money-back guarantee. (Oh, and the Course Report community gets $150 off Thinkful Flexible Web Development Bootcamp!)
When does the job placement/preparation process start? How long do you continue helping your graduates find jobs after they graduate?
Preparation starts as early as the onboarding call with Derek Fogge, Thinkful’s Flexible Web Development Bootcamp Program Manager. He’ll spend an hour understanding each student’s career goals, prior experience, and location, and turn that into a learning roadmap. After the first month, a career services mentor will schedule the first mock interview to get students exposed to the job process immediately. Career services will continue to meet every month until graduation. At this point, the job search ramps up with weekly meetings for up to four months after graduation. It’s important that we start this entire process early and encourage students to reflect on their progress often in monthly assessments.
Who’s involved in career placement?
Everyone at Thinkful, to some extent. There’s actually a wall at HQ where we post pictures of new graduates and leave them there until they’ve successfully been placed. Taking them down is always fun. Grae Drake, our Head of Education, runs the career services program and leads a team of nine career services mentors who meet with students regularly during the course and after graduation.
Do you have a job placement guarantee? What are your current job placement stats?
Indeed! If you put in the work and don’t land a job with four months of graduation, you’ll get all of your money back. Aligning business interests with the successes of our students keeps everyone accountable. We’re proud of the fact that 93% of job-seeking graduates have landed a job within four months of graduation. You can find more of our placement stats on our public Jobs Report.
What sort of advice do you give your students for creating their online presence? How important is that?
We train students to use GitHub (via command line) in the first unit and encourage them to push code there every single day. A portfolio is also a critical medium in displaying your work, especially if the prospective client/employer isn’t familiar with GitHub. Besides that, we ask our students to submit an updated LinkedIn along with resumes and cover letters to the career services team. We don’t push students to maintain a presence on Twitter unless they’re already active.
Where do you suggest students start their job search? How do you help with networking?
By the time our students reach graduation, most of them have a rough idea of what their ideal role might look like and where they might want to work. From that information, we’ll build a list of companies based on preferences around size, industry, and potential salary. Once that comes together, we’ll tap into our network of 300 mentors and more than 5000 students to seek introductions to the right people at each company, and take it from there. On their end, we encourage students to get involved in their community and attend local meetups and career fairs. There’s demand for developers at every company so it’s important to just get out there and talk!
How does Thinkful prepare students for job interviews?
It starts well before the actual interview. By meeting with an engineer three times every week, they’re already practicing effective communication with senior engineers. They’re learning how to ask questions and debug efficiently from Slack and office hours. On top of that, they have monthly assessments with career services mentors that increase in difficulty. Once the job placement phase officially starts, the student will start meeting with him/her on a weekly basis to review applications, cover letters, and schedule more interviews.
How do you help with imposter syndrome and job offer consideration?
Many bootcamp grads get hit by imposter syndrome upon graduation. They might not understand their true value after only coding for a few months. We help them overcome that fear throughout the program by encouraging them to build projects and pushing them further every week. Sometimes it just takes an active voice (from both of their mentors) reminding them that on a regular basis. That’s a big reason why human relationships are essential in outcomes-driven online learning. As for job considering, we encourage students to go out in the real world when the right offer comes, nothing beats experience. We see 50% of our students land jobs before graduation.
What specifically are most of your graduates looking for in a job? Can you give some examples of the sort of jobs your graduates are in now?
Titles vary dramatically in this industry but our students land full-time jobs as developers, programmers, and engineers. Specifically, we’ve had full stack engineers, CSS wizards, and frontend developers, at small startups and large companies.
In your experience, what do employers like about your graduates? Have you noticed that employers are looking for a specific language or specific soft skills?
Our students can solve problems and build. At every opportunity, we encourage our students to break projects down into the smallest of pieces. We encourage them to ask questions and push code to GitHub every day. We arm them with the tools (git, command line, editors) needed to contribute on Day 1.
Employers want graduates who can learn quickly. Because languages can become outdated quickly, it’s important for engineers to be able to adapt accordingly. Thinkful students have opportunity to learn (and practice) a wide range of new skills in a short amount of time. They’ve already practiced the art (and it is an art) of Googling and finding answers on StackOverflow.
Can graduates of Thinkful apply for job listings that require a CS degree? Have any got jobs this way?
Our curriculum already covers the skills asked for in a majority of the jobs our students apply to. With that said, we do encourage to punch above their weight class, so to speak, and apply for positions that require more experience. We’ve noticed most job postings are aspirational and our students can demonstrate sufficient competency through their portfolio and interviewing skills alone. We’re also confident our students will continue landing these jobs as we add more content typically taught in college, starting with algorithms and data structures.