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Being a Solutions Engineer at Datadog takes a unique combination of technical and soft skills. And since many Flatiron School graduates come armed with previous client-facing experience, Datadog has hired 8 of them for this role! We sat down with Avery Johnson, a Technical Solutions Recruiter for Datadog, to understand the value bootcamp grads bring to the Solutions Engineer role, their partnership with Flatiron School, and what their new hires are working on at their jobs.

Tell us about Datadog and your role as a Technical Solutions Recruiter?

Datadog is a SaaS platform used for cloud scale monitoring. We offer three pillars to our product, infrastructure monitoring, application performance monitoring, and log analysis. It gives real-time insight and granularity so DevOps can see where issues are occurring in their environment. As a recruiter, I primarily hire Solutions Engineers.

How many Flatiron School bootcamp graduates have you hired?

I’ve interviewed many Flatiron grads for the Solutions Engineer role and we’ve successfully hired 8 of them.

What is the Solutions Engineer role? What does their daily work look like?

The position is a hybrid role working with the Datadog product and related technologies, while still being very technical – diving into source code, logging, scripting, and taking on side development projects. They get to be exposed to more technologies and experience by working with customer code and integrations. Our platform integrates with 250+ technologies so there are opportunities to learn about cloud technologies, containers, and Docker.

On a daily basis, Solutions Engineers are usually speaking with client engineers or developers, they could be asked technical questions, sent a line of code to assist with, or could have a project that takes a couple hours or a couple days working with software integrations, dashboards, alerts, anything to do with APMs, Logs – it changes every day, especially as our product is constantly evolving. They will also conduct product demos for prospective clients showcasing how the product works, visualization, setting up alerts, understanding if they’re in an AWS, Azure, or GCP environment, and showing the corresponding integrations for them.

Flatiron School students learn Ruby on Rails and JavaScript – is that what the Solutions Engineers are working with at Datadog or are they learning on the job?

Our platform is primarily written with Python, Ruby, and Go. It’s really great that Flatiron School students have a foundation with Ruby, but a client could send over a script in Javascript or another language so they have a lot of opportunity to pick things up but also keep expanding on those technologies. We look for applicants who love to learn because there’s a lot of learning that goes into the role.

Are there differences in hiring from Flatiron School or other coding bootcamps versus more traditional hiring channels?

The end of a coding bootcamp is career-focused – bootcamp grads learn about interviewing, building a resume, presenting themselves, and developing an elevator pitch. They learn how to navigate the job application process and go after what they want. Choosing to attend a bootcamp also shows how motivated someone is – this type of drive and devotion is something that we really value.

Do you see more diverse candidates coming through bootcamps for these technical roles?

The Datadog team and managers are really invested in diversity on their teams. They want hires with different types of backgrounds because they want different ways of thinking. Flatiron has been fantastic at providing a diverse candidate pool – we’ve never explicitly asked, but diversity is just a given among the candidates. I’m happy we’ve hired a lot of diverse candidates – it’s really exciting from my side.

The Solutions Engineers we’ve hired from Flatiron School had a wide variety of backgrounds! We’ve hired a math instructor, an administrative assistant, a college lab tech, a tech coordinator, a business ops intern, and a behavioral therapist. Another was a freelance developer and associate game designer with a bachelors in fine arts and game production.

Has it ever been a concern for you that these applicants don’t have traditional computer science degrees?

We really, really love bootcamp grads. Four of our Solutions Engineering Directors all went to bootcamps themselves – two are in New York, one is in San Francisco, and one is in APAC. They came from different careers, started in this role, and then worked their way up to director level. They appreciate people who have had different types of backgrounds and different ways of thinking. There are people with Computer Science degrees on the team and we definitely look to hire people with that experience as well. But in the Solutions Engineer role, it’s useful for people who have previously held a client-facing role or have built their soft skills.

What is the interview process at Datadog for a Solutions Engineer?

Applicants have a phone call with a recruiter like me, they’re assigned a technical takehome mini project that allows you to explore the Datadog platform. We obviously want to see their technical skills, but we also want to see how they would explain a technical concept to a client.

Once they submit the project, we bring the applicant on-site for a whiteboard interview and have them meet with team members and talk about a project they’ve worked on at bootcamp. Our interviewers really enjoy understanding what project a Flatiron grad chose to work on and why.

How does Datadog onboard and support Flatiron School grads in their first technical jobs?

Having a lot of open communication is very important to the team. We hire people who love learning but also love helping other people – whether it’s the client or other team members. They’re learning so much so quickly, so being able to help share information with others can help them out.

New hires start working alongside another Solutions Engineer so they can learn and grow together. When they first start, they go through an intensive onboarding week to set them up for success and are assigned a mentor and an office buddy.

Other training and opportunities include:

  • A single Learning Day 6-8 weeks into the job to gain more skills.
  • A Hack Day rotation – one day where they don’t do their normal job or work with clients and learn about something that interests them.
  • Free Udemy courses for more learning.
  • Side development projects
  • Participating in Hackathons – we call them Hackadogs!
  • Embed rotation period – a two-week sprint period where they’re fully integrated into another team that interests them, like Sales Engineering. They are assigned projects to give them more diverse experiences at Datadog.

Have the Flatiron grads you’ve hired gone on to other roles or been promoted?

Most of our Flatiron hires are still under the 6-month mark, but one person has moved up to a more specialized Tier 2 – a more specialized role where they are an expect in a specific part of the product. Some others on the Solution team however, have chosen to go to product management, technical writing, engineering teams, or sales engineering teams.

Do you have any best practices or advice for other employers who are considering hiring from a coding bootcamp like Flatiron School?

I typically like to get on the phone with applicants and find out what they’re motivations are – people can really shine on the phone more than one might be able to on a resume. Also, by giving all applicants a technical exercise, bootcamp grads can really show what they’ve learned instead of relying on their previous background.

Read Flatiron School reviews here or visit their website to find out more.  

About The Author

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Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students considering a coding bootcamp. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube

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