App Academy prepares students for software engineering roles right after bootcamp graduation. But what does that actually look like? We caught up with a real employer – Elizabeth Thompson, the Senior Engineering Manager at Preset – to find out how their engineering team has hired and integrated recent App Academy graduates into their organization. Elizabeth shares insights on what sets bootcamp graduates apart in the interviewing process, what App Academy graduates are working on now at Preset, plus tips on how other employers can add bootcamp grads to their tech teams.
What is the engineering team like at Preset?
I work at Preset which offers a hosted solution for Superset, an open source business intelligence (BI) application. We offer a simple way for companies to get started with Superset and share data insights across their organization to many teams that would not normally have access to data tools.
I manage the product engineering team of eight full stack software engineers who work on open source Superset as well as Preset-specific features that are added on top of the application. We also have a product partner, designer, and a QA team.
How many App Academy grads has your team hired?
Preset has hired two App Academy grads as full-time Software Engineers and we currently have one Intern from App Academy. They have all been part of the Product Engineering teams. The grads have been working on Superset features, such as improved alerts and reports, database connections, and on the Preset side some data engineering features with ETLs and DBT.
We have also hired one graduate from Lambda School/BloomTech. I think that all the bootcamp graduates that we have hired have been great to work with and very eager to learn.
Why does Preset hire from App Academy? Does the curriculum they teach line up with the skills you’re hiring for?
Yes, since Superset is built on Python and React with Typescript, the App Academy grads already have a basic understanding of our tech stack. Even if the candidates have gone through the Ruby program, they have quickly been able to pivot to learning Python, since the languages are similar.
How could a bootcamp grad get a job at Preset? What is your team looking for when interviewing bootcamp grads?
When interviewing bootcamp grads, there’s usually little work experience to fall back on, so if you’re in a pool with a lot of other bootcamp grads, the way to make your work stand out is really to focus on the attention to detail. We don’t expect much by way of resume, and typically look at the GitHub code for the App Academy projects as well as live applications.
The candidates that stand out to us are the ones that pay close attention to the details and take pride in their work. Even if they don’t have a designer on their projects, we look for things like consistent spacing, making sure that everything works, and spotting little details that may be broken. Those are all the things that Product, Design, and QA (and your engineering manager!) are going to be looking at when you work on a feature. If you have the attention to detail in your bootcamp project, then you’re going to likely carry that attention to detail into your job.
The next part is the coding, of course. Clean code is important. Remove your comments, console logs, etc, make sure that code is linted and indented properly. And lastly, we look for good coding practices, and an understanding of the principles of good code design.
What can potential applicants expect from the interview process at your company?
For our interview process, we try to give questions that are similar to real world coding, something that you would do in your daily life as a Product Engineer.
We’re always curious about how employers perceive bootcamp grads – have you had to convince your team (or yourself!) to hire bootcamp grads in the past?
Most people in the engineering org understand that a bootcamp grad isn’t going to hit-the-ground-running. They’re going to need a lot of time and guidance from their managers and their team to unblock them and answer questions. Every now and then we find someone who is a rockstar and just starts sprinting from day one, but it’s rare. We know that we will be making an investment into their career and their futures as an engineer, and we expect that as they grow, they will become more independent and have the experience to bolster their own decisions and then eventually start helping others in return.
Does your company offer an internship or apprenticeship for anyone just starting their tech career?
We have done a few different internship programs, as well as directly hiring as software engineers. For the internship programs, graduates are normally unpaid and the program lasts around three months. Since we work in open source mainly, it’s a great opportunity for interns to not only learn from a great team but to also get their own code into the public and very visible to the community. They also have the opportunity to work with people from other companies that contribute to Superset.
If we find an engineer that we like to work with, depending on the roles that are open in the company, it’s always preferable to hire someone with whom we have already worked and who has been onboarded with our team. We have also seen interns and contractors move on to other companies that also use Superset since the skills are transferable.
Do you recommend that recent bootcamp grads consider doing an internship before taking their first software engineer role?
A bootcamp graduate is always going to stand out if they have had some experience, and an internship is a great way to get that training. But it’s also just as important to consider the team that you will be working on. Especially early in your career, make sure that the team you work with will be teaching you best practices. You want to learn good habits early in your career, so make sure that if you do take on an internship, you can show that the code that you wrote during your time there was well tested, and that you worked on a large enough team where you had senior engineers guiding and mentoring you.
In your time helping with hiring, have you seen tech hiring change at your company? How have bootcamps factored into the hiring process?
We have had to make some small adjustments when hiring bootcamp graduates, but for the most part we like to take them through the same process and questions that we would give to any software engineering candidate.
Do you have any advice to other employers who are considering hiring a bootcamp grad?
Make sure that you have a good support system in place for hiring bootcamp grads and expect to be making an investment into their long-term careers. They only have one first job after graduation. Take time during the hiring process to find a person that you can nurture and train to be an excellent member on your team and plan for them to be around for a few years to be able to give back what you’ve invested into them.
Will you be hiring App Academy grads in the future at your company?
Yes, definitely. Preset values diversity in our hiring, and App Academy gives us an opportunity to recruit engineers who come from other backgrounds and industries, and who most often don’t have a Computer Science degree. A lot of the candidates are transitioning from a prior career in a completely different field and at some point found that they loved to code, and we appreciate that App Academy helps those individuals transition into a field which has traditionally been difficult to enter without a formal degree.
Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps.
Everything a beginner needs to know about AI and machine learning!
Learn how Manual QA Testers use Android Studio on the job!
How to navigate your new fintech career path!
Find out why data and engineering pros still rely on SQL!
Find out how you can land a tech job in SoCal after LearningFuze!
Find out how today's tech workforce will use this new AI tool!
Find out how long it took 2022 grads to land a tech role!
A Springboard mentor walks us through everything you need to know about UX research!
Flatiron School instructor Gilles Castro walks us through these cyber career paths!
Just tell us who you are and what you’re searching for, we’ll handle the rest.