When Kaylee Anchulis decided to make a career change this year, she found the support and practical guidance she needed in Tech Elevator. But it all started with the application! Kaylee helps us dig into Tech Elevator’s selective admissions process and what to expect in the aptitude tests and behavioral interviews. Look for the “Tech Elevator Application Tips” for special advice from Terry Warnock, the Executive Director of Campus Operations at Tech Elevator. With that inside scoop from Tech Elevator and Kaylee’s firsthand experience, we’re helping you be best prepared for the admissions process and why it matters to your success in the program. Plus, learn more about Tech Elevator’s commitment to help students seamlessly transition to working remotely in their first developer role – Kaylee is now working as a Software Developer Associate at PNC!
Kaylee: The most important factor for me this year was choosing a bootcamp that adapted well to virtual learning amid the pandemic. The quality of my remote experience should be equal to an in-person experience. I knew my learning style and did not want recorded lectures or tasks that I needed to walk through by myself. I needed a live experience where I could be engaged, ask questions, and form relationships with people who were going through a similar scenario.
After researching bootcamps, I recognized right away that Tech Elevator was different. Tech Elevator has good relationships with other companies, including Fortune 500 companies. Their instructors have years of professional experience, and overall the bootcamp looked both impressive and practical. When I spoke with the Tech Elevator admissions team, they weren't pushy, just genuinely encouraging of my choice to go down this path and that tone held true throughout the entire bootcamp course. It felt like Tech Elevator was the place to be!
Tech Elevator Application Tip #1: Your Laptop
Tech Elevator has always provided laptops to its students for use during the course of the program. They come equipped with all the software needed to be ready to code from day one.
Kaylee: From the initial aptitude test to committing to the program, the entire process took about 3 weeks. I spoke with the admissions team, including the head of admissions and another staff member.
Overall, these evaluations determined if I had the right mindset for this career. I made sure I was genuine in my responses and let the Tech Elevator team decide if I was a good fit for the bootcamp.
Tech Elevator Application Tip #2: What Are We Looking For?
Generally, we evaluate aptitude and attitude. If you make it into Tech Elevator, then you can be confident that you deserve to be here and can do it.
The aptitude tests in our admissions process help us determine the problem-solving, critical thinking and creative thinking skills necessary to move at a fast pace through our curriculum. These evaluations are not based on any prior coding experience. In-person interviews let us dig into the behavioral skills that we feel complement those aptitude skills. Expect to talk about attributes like perseverance, communication skills, teamwork experience, and drive towards coding and a career in technology.
Kaylee, did the Tech Elevator’s aptitude test help you in your decision-making process?
Kaylee: Yes! At first, Tech Elevator’s program was intimidating because I didn't know much about coding and I wasn't sure if I could get through the bootcamp. After I completed the 10-minute aptitude test, I felt more confident and inspired to take the next step and apply for the bootcamp. The aptitude test definitely encouraged me to move forward.
Tech Elevator Application Tip #3: What If I Get Rejected?
If you’re not accepted into Tech Elevator, we encourage you to continue your learning journeys in other ways (like these Learn to Code Resources). We have a 6-month waiting period before someone can re-apply, to ensure they have taken a thoughtful approach to any improvements before trying again.
Kaylee: I graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Marketing, and my first marketing job was at a law firm where I led the overhaul of the firm’s website and served as the liaison between the lawyers and a team of developers. I had some front end development experience from a college class that touched on web development for marketing, so when I organized the site overhaul, I dabbled in a few online coding activities. I wanted to see if I liked coding and could see myself committing more time towards it. I ended up loving the process so much, I found myself still updating the back-end well after the project was finished. Since the rest of my marketing responsibilities weren’t as challenging and rewarding for me, I dug into tech and web development which led me to Tech Elevator.
Tech Elevator Application Tip #4: You Don’t Need to be a Pro
While some students have dabbled in coding or have been passionate about various aspects of technology as a hobby on the side, most of our students do not have any prior education in programming prior to Tech Elevator. There are a lot of great — and free! — resources online. Check out the Learn to Code Resources page of our website.
Kaylee: Tech Elevator doesn’t accept everyone, which was appealing to me. The fact that Tech Elevator doesn’t accept everyone showed the quality of the bootcamp; they valued their program enough to be selective. Tech Elevator doesn't require coding experience, but they evaluate the way you think and there are many non-technical evaluations an applicant has to complete before being accepted into the bootcamp.
Tech Elevator Application Tip #5: Acceptance Rate
We accept about 50% of applicants. We know this is a significant investment people are making in their education — and their future career expectations. They are relying on us to deliver on the industry-leading outcomes we have built a quality reputation on in the industry, so we feel our admissions process and acceptance rate are examples of how we deliver on this standard for a quality experience and result for those who are accepted and put in the effort we expect of all students that join us.
Kaylee, do you think the competitiveness of Tech Elevator’s admissions process helped you get a better job after graduation?
Kaylee: Yes, I think it did! Tech Elevator only accepts students who they feel will be successful. The corporate partners know the Tech Elevator curriculum and that anyone who completes it is more than qualified to be a developer at their company. Tech Elevator gives you a leg up in the industry.
Kaylee: There are two aspects of the Tech Elevator bootcamp:
The Pathway Program’s sole purpose is to prepare you for your job hunt and career by providing you with action items and support. There were 3-4 sessions a week, and I found each session very purposeful and filled with tips and tricks about resumes, interviewing, and the tech industry. The Pathway Program is based on the personal experience from the instructors in the field and Tech Elevator’s own research. This was information that I would not have been able to find out on my own.
I had so many mock interviews, including one with a Software Developer from Google. At the time the amount of mock interviews overwhelmed me, but once it was time to have an actual job interview, it was a breeze! Every time we had an employer showcase, Tech Elevator had us craft an elevator pitch for them. The employer showcases included companies like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, or Kaman. It was intimidating at first, but toward the end, I felt like I could talk to any CEO and be totally fine.
The Pathway Program is detailed about how to follow up, secure interviews, increase your chances, and negotiate. Tech Elevator doesn’t kick you to the curb after graduation; they have continued career support for 6 months until you land your job. After I graduated, I received more information on accepting my first developer job, what to expect in my first week on the job, and how to set myself up for success.
What roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from Tech Elevator?
Kaylee: There are a million different things you can do in technology, so it's really up to the individual student and what direction they want to go. I wanted to be a software developer, so I targeted junior software developer and software developer associate roles. Students in my cohort who already had years of experience were able to go after more senior roles.
Since you did this bootcamp remotely, did you feel prepared to work remotely?
Kaylee: Yes! Initially, I worried about doing a remote bootcamp, but I'm so glad that I did it. I landed my first developer job right after graduation and it was such a seamless transition because I already had my home office set up. Tech Elevator also made sure to touch on working remotely, offering tips and tricks while they discussed how we were probably going to work remotely for the foreseeable future.
Congrats on your new job at PNC! What is your role at PNC?
Kaylee: My current title is Software Developer Associate. PNC is replacing their core banking technology and has two tracks within their Technology & Innovation team: Change the Bank and Run the Bank. I am a part of Run the Bank team, and we support the new software and applications created by the Charge the Bank team. Our initiative is to work with the developers, implementing processes that allow for a seamless transition from Change the Bank to Run the Bank. It's awesome for me to come in now because I'm not the only one who is learning the new software — We all are!
Did you get this job through a connection with Tech Elevator?
Kaylee: I did get this job through Tech Elevator. Tech Elevator hosts a matchmaking event during week 11 where companies come for a full day of interviewing. We add our name to a time slot and then have behavioral or technical interviews with those companies. If a company wants to move forward in the interview process with a student, they would contact us directly or our Pathway Director. I interviewed with five companies that day, including two different teams for PNC. One of those PNC teams accepted me two weeks later.
Are you using all the programming languages that you learned at Tech Elevator?
Kaylee: PNC is a Java-based company, and luckily I did the Java program at Tech Elevator. PNC uses everything I learned at Tech Elevator, including Eclipse IDE and database APIs. Even the non-technical aspects of my job like using Kanban and Slack are all things that I learned in the bootcamp.
So far, is this career what you expected?
Kaylee: Tech Elevator got me job-ready with practical and realistic training. In the final two weeks of the bootcamp, we organized our capstone projects using Trello and we designated a product manager and project manager in our group. Tech Elevator’s capstone project was a well-crafted simulation of the work we would experience as a developer.
This is my third week at my new job and already I’ve found that the people working in this field are helpful and intelligent. They want others to succeed. I feel so much more useful and fulfilled than when I was in marketing. I'm contributing to things in this career that are challenging.
Kaylee: I wish I knew that it was going to be such hard work. I was the first of my family to graduate from college, and yet I felt more accomplished when I graduated from Tech Elevator. In order to get the most out of your experience, you need to take these 14 weeks seriously. It seems a little dramatic, but those 14 weeks compared to a lifetime in the tech industry is nothing. Totally commit to the experience and you will be successful and ready to start this journey.
What has been the biggest roadblock in your career change journey?
Kaylee: We talk about imposter syndrome a lot in Tech Elevator, and that has been the biggest roadblock for me. It doesn't feel like we should be ready in just 14 weeks, but we are. I listened to a podcast with Bill Gates, and he admitted even he had imposter syndrome! When I heard that and knew I was fine.
Being a woman in tech also presents its challenges. As soon as you get out of your own head, you realize it isn't scary at all. Tech Elevator does an outstanding job at empowering its students to get over those mental roadblocks. They told us to "unmute" ourselves and taught us how to feel confident and speak up.
Kaylee: Definitely. In 14 weeks, I doubled my salary! Plus, I now have a job in an industry that is much more secure. It isn't recession-proof, but it has to be one of the closest to it. I'm excited about the future and where this industry will take me.
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