After hiring six graduates from LearningFuze coding bootcamp in Irvine, California, BeSmartee co-founder Veronica Nguyen plans to hire more! Veronica tells us what she is looking for in new hires at the B2B FinTech company, how LearningFuze refers their new grads to companies, and how employees are mentored on the job. She also predicts the career trajectory of her new hires, and gives some advice for other employers thinking of hiring coding bootcamp graduates!
Tell us about BeSmartee and your role there.
BeSmartee is a B2B FinTech company which offers a white-labeled, self-serve mortgage experience that can take a financial institution’s borrowers and originators from application to appraisal in minutes. I am one of the co-founders of BeSmartee, and I am the Vice President of Administrative Services, responsible for three departments – compliance, human resources, and finance.
How did you first get connected with LearningFuze and the idea of hiring their alumni?
I came across LearningFuze online and saw it was a local coding bootcamp (we’re based in Huntington Beach, California), so we contacted the team to see if we could work together. The rest is history! We began chatting in October of 2017 and the first graduate was hired in early November.
How many LearningFuze grads have you hired, and for what specific roles?
Other than LearningFuze, how else do you usually hire developers?
We usually place job ads on websites like LinkedIn, Learn4Good.com, and ZipRecruiter.
What are you looking for in a new hire?
First, we look at a candidate’s values. One of the biggest questions we ask before making the final decision is, “Does this candidate share our company values?” If the person has the tech skills but is not aligned with our values, we won’t hire them. For LearningFuze students, we know that this would be their first job in development, so we are willing to take a chance on them if they share our values and have a passion for learning.
What stands out about hiring coding bootcamp grads vs hiring college grads, or via a recruiter?
Recruiters have not worked out for us because we have such a unique way of hiring. We have not tried hiring from colleges yet. Colleges seem to teach everything while some bootcamps only focus on new technologies. We tried hiring students from another bootcamp but they never sent us any candidates.
I think what makes LearningFuze’s offering unique is that their team actually takes the time to get to know us as a company so that when students graduate, they know which graduates to refer to us.
How did your LearningFuze hires do in the job interview and technical interview? Did you need to tweak the application process for non-traditional applicants?
No. LearningFuze candidates are well prepared for our interview process.
One concern we hear from bootcamp alumni is how they’ll be supported to keep learning on the job. Do you have mentoring or apprenticeship programs in place for new hires?
Every employee has a mentor for the entire time they are employed at BeSmartee. No one works alone here. For the new hires, especially, we make sure they get a dedicated mentor to teach them everything from A to Z.
Since you started hiring from LearningFuze, have your new hires moved up or been promoted? Or do you anticipate that they will?
As the company grows, I imagine we’ll see them move up the ladder. However, this depends on each individual being able to learn all the technologies and handle more complex systems. From our experience, it usually takes a year just to get comfortable in a new development environment, sometimes more, depending on the person.
Do you have a feedback loop with LearningFuze? Are you able to influence the curriculum if you notice your dev hires are underqualified in a certain area?
LearningFuze formulates its own curriculum, which has worked well for our needs so far. I am sure they would be willing to listen to any feedback if we had recommendations.
Note from LearningFuze: We have received feedback through in-person meetings as well as from the graduates as they are interviewing. While we have not changed our curriculum, we have encouraged more students to learn PHP, helped them get comfortable with XML before interviewing with BeSmartee, and made sure that candidates align with BeSmartee’s values.
What does the relationship look like between BeSmartee and LearningFuze? Do you have to pay a fee or anything to hire grads?
There is no fee. LearningFuze wants to help students be successful in the job market, and we are both here to help the student do this. That’s what’s great about LearningFuze – there is no fee, which is how it should be. LearningFuze is a school that exists to meet the best interests of the students.
Will you hire from LearningFuze in the future?
We will definitely be hiring from LearningFuze again in the future.
What is your advice to other employers who are thinking about hiring from a coding bootcamp or LearningFuze in particular?
I recommend figuring out what approach works best for you as an employer and building relationships with local coding bootcamps, so that they can understand what you are looking for in an employee.