As a Director of Software Engineering at Progressive Leasing, Kristie Azarela hired her first coding boot camp grad in 2017. After meeting Jodi Parker at a DevMountain hiring event, she found that Jodi’s QA and graphic design background, combined with a three month-coding boot camp made her a great candidate for Progressive Leasing. Kristie tells us about Jodi’s interview process, her progress in her new role and why she recommends DevMountain to other employers.
Tell us about Progressive Leasing – what’s your role there?
I’m a Director of Software Engineering at Progressive Leasing, which has been providing simple and affordable lease-to-own options for credit-challenged consumers since 1999. I lead a team of software engineers responsible for the oversight of our current application platform.
As an employer, how did you first get connected with DevMountain?
The national unemployment rate is 3.9% (3.1% in Utah!) so it’s incredibly challenging to find technology talent. On top of that, the job market along the Wasatch Front aka “Silicon Slopes” is very competitive. Our talent acquisition team conducts hundreds of interviews each month as well as holding hiring events which they invite leads and directors to participate in. I was excited to participate at a DevMountain hiring event because I love to meet and support students who are just starting out in their career.
I talked to a lot of great students that day and wish I could have hired them all, but one person, Jodi Parker stood out to me for a variety of reasons. She was really enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity to talk to me. She also asked great questions, was really motivated and seemed driven to succeed. She reached out directly after the event, so I invited her in to meet in person for an interview, and we were fortunate enough to hire her as a Software Engineer working on the front end of our application, using Angular and Node. It was my first DevMountain hire and she is fantastic!
Has Progressive Leasing hired any other DevMountain grads or coding bootcamp grads?
I’d have to ask our Technology Recruiting Manager, Michelle Garretson, but I know we have had candidates apply from DevMountain, as well as other Coding Bootcamps in the Salt Lake City area. Often times, students have limited work experience so they don’t meet the minimum qualifications of the role. Jody is the first Bootcamp student that I have personally hired.
So what stood out about Jodi? Why did she get the job?
Jodi had recently graduated from DevMountain but prior to going through that program, she did have some technology work experience. She had some previous experience in QA, Graphic Design and experience as a UX designer. This prior work experience, along with the skills she learned at DevMountain, and great interview made it easy to hire her.
Tell me about the interview process that Jodi went through. How did she do?
I can’t share details about our interview process, but Jodi went through the same process as all other candidates and she was hired so that should tell you how the interview went!
Nobody had any hesitation or reservations about hiring Jodi. I got good feedback from everyone who participated in the interview, so I felt like she'd be a good fit. When she didn't know the answer to a technical question, she said so. I would much rather have someone in an interview tell me that they don't know the answer, but they could learn it or they could find out, than try to make up an answer.
As a woman in charge of an engineering team, are you an advocate to get more women into coding?
Progressive Leasing does a great job of diversity recruiting, and luckily we’ve been fortunate to attract women across the organization. We value diversity!
So Jodi is working in Angular and Node. Are those technologies she already knew from DevMountain or has she trained up since she started at Progressive Leasing?
She had some exposure to Angular at DevMountain. She definitely had to learn our application, but she's a self-starter and pushed herself to learn within the first sprints of work.
I have several senior engineers on my team, and there is an expectation, like in any organization, that senior engineers provide mentorship to other engineers on the team. It's not formalized, but when Jodi has had questions or downtime, I know she's worked with one of our back end senior engineers to start learning more about the API and C#.
How is Jodi doing in the job so far?
She's very professional, super sharp, and driven to succeed. I’m happy she joined the company almost a year ago, wow. I hope she will share her positive experience with other students at DevMountain.
What is your advice to other employers who are thinking about hiring from a coding bootcamp or from DevMountain in particular?
Ideally, candidates would have some real-world work experience, whether it's in IT specifically or a related field. Internships are a great option for new bootcamp grads to consider to gain that experience.
I think if people get into software development because it's something that they really care about, or are passionate about, that makes them more likely to be good long-term employees.
Will you hire from DevMountain in the future?
Every company across the country is competing for tech talent so we’d be crazy not to! We are thankful that we found Jodi and would love to find more future hires!