Ramona Ortega is no stranger to FinTech startups – she is the founder of My Money My Future and most recently WealthBuild.AI. As a CEO, Ramona deeply understands the tech hiring needs of her companies. She trusts Sabio to supply talented and collaborative software developers, so much that the entire founding team of WealthBuild.AI are Sabio bootcamp grads! Ramona explains why she returns to Sabio to hire engineers, and her advice for employers looking to hire bootcamp grads.
Tell us a bit about WealthBuild.AI! What problems do you solve?
WealthBuild.AI is an early stage, AI-driven fintech platform. Using AI, we are building a smart financial assistant with conversations, like having a financial advisor in your pocket. We are also integrating our platform with a blockchain reward system to incentivize people to take better financial actions by rewarding them with our Wealth Build token, which was built on the Stellar blockchain.
What is the engineering team like at WealthBuild.AI?
I've had a long relationship with Sabio. Before WealthBuild, Sabio helped me build my first company, My Money My Future! When I thought about putting together a team for WealthBuild, the first thing I did was contact Sabio with an invitation for seasoned engineers to help me build my fintech startup team. As we started coming together and coalescing, I invited most of them to join the team as co-founders. We’ve had others help out on projects but the core team is built from Sabio bootcamp grads.
I’m currently the only one on the team that is not an engineer! One co-founder is acting CTO who does all of our infrastructure database, CICD pipeline work. The other co-founder is working specifically on building our AI. (We're using an open source enterprise level platform called Rasa to build our AI on.) We have someone heading our UI/UX front end design in React, and someone else is focused on our blockchain component. This was actually his first time working on blockchain, but when he started building, I saw that he clearly knows a lot more and it's been fantastic to see the learning curve there.
Do you see an internship on the horizon at WealthBuild?
There's nothing better than real world experience so we’re open to hiring people as interns after they’ve graduated from a coding bootcamp like Sabio with the hope of keeping them on the team if we’re a good fit. Internships are a great way to get a sense of people’s skills, work ethic, desires, and goals.
Why do you hire bootcamp graduates from Sabio?
I like that Sabio graduates understand the full stack in a deep enough way that they can figure things out. No developer, even a CS grad, comes out knowing how to do anything automatically. Everyone has their strengths and individual projects they’re working on, but the experience is what really matters.
Sabio grads have already worked on real-world projects and have a deep understanding of teamwork, as well as the structure from which Sabio operates, all of which gravitate me toward hiring Sabio bootcamp graduates. There’s also a comfortable mutual respect amongst Sabio bootcamp grads because they’ve all endured the same depth of training.
What skills are you looking for when hiring bootcamp grads?
I’m looking for people who are curious self-starters. I’m looking for thought leadership in the ability to solve problems. IAs a CEO, founder, and visionary, I'll come to them with an idea and ask them what they would do first, to get a gauge of their planning and problem-solving skills. I'm also looking for good communication skills, now more than ever. They have to be able to communicate in a team, especially a new and remote team, to solve problems.
From a technical standpoint, I’m looking for someone with API experience, who feels comfortable deploying, so having an understanding of the Azure stack we work on. I’m looking for people with strong skills in React. A lot of our blockchain is still in Python, so I look for skilled Python engineers. Depending on our stage of development, it's great to have UI/UX developers who have a keen sense of design and know how to write code.
Do bootcamp grads need to understand fintech in order to apply for software engineering roles at WealthBuild.AI?
No! Most of our team didn't have fintech experience before they were hired at WealthBuild.AI.
Is there anyone you wish would apply at WealthBuild.AI?
I am looking to hire more women! I'm one of few women in fintech — fintech is growing, and there are more women in fintech now than when I started — but I’ve struggled to hire women because they don’t show up to our open calls. I don’t know if it’s because women opt out of applying or if they’re so skilled that they’re in high demand.
How can bootcamp grads stand out in your hiring process?
We want to see external motivation, that you're doing other things to strengthen your skillset, like side projects. For example, are you taking courses on a topic? Are you following certain channels on Discord?
I want to see that you're always trying to become an expert in your space in technology. If you’re interested in APIs, what is the new language and how is it being used?
I'm looking for some sense of due diligence. If you're interviewing with me and I'm a fintech company, I expect you to have done some research on fintech. You don't have to have experience working in fintech, but you have to show that you have some interest and insight in this particular field. I want you to have questions that show me we can engage in conversation about this — like if I say “API,” you know what I’m talking about.
We’re always curious about how employers perceive bootcamp grads. Have you had to convince your team (or yourself!) to hire bootcamp grads?
It hasn't come up, but I wonder if it’ll come up as we get bigger. Venture capital still has a ton of bias toward developers and the icons below their names on their resumes and professional profiles. Investors are quicker to fund a development team that has the experience of Meta or Square.
I don't feel like I have to convince my current team because it’s one of the reasons I bootstrapped the company — to prove a concept so that I wouldn't have to deal with the nitpicking and doubt associated with asking for venture capital as a woman. Less than 2% of venture capital goes to women and that number continues to drop. With WealthBuild.AI, it's not “if we can” — it’s: we did.
Why is fintech an interesting field for someone who is just starting a tech career?
There are spaces in tech that are growing and gaining momentum and fintech is one of them. Fintech is still hot, it’s still relevant. There's still so much growth and opportunity, especially with the evolution of blockchain. Healthtech is another rapidly growing industry I’d consider if I wasn’t in fintech.
If all else fails for the fintech startup you work for, you're still going to have great experience on your resume. Employers love founding teams because they know that they’ve had to consider the company from a product perspective. What I think happens in a lot of big companies is that engineers are never thinking about the business line, the devops, or the customer service. There's something to be said about teams that really understand the full cycle.
Do you have any advice to other employers who are considering hiring a bootcamp grad?
Know the coding bootcamp you’re hiring from. I’ve stuck with Sabio because I know the curriculum. It’s important to have a relationship with the bootcamp you’re seeking talent from. It would be helpful to know their curriculum to understand how they teach and what skills those grads are coming out with. I often connect with the Sabio team about what we’re building and if they have anyone that might fit my hiring needs, or offer feedback about a certain language so they can focus their curriculum to be more applicable to the jobs we’re looking to hire for now.
Hire advisors or consultants who have more experience that can offer leadership perspective, process ops perspective, and best practices so the right people are in the right roles. This is also true of a CEO, who often gets replaced once the company goes public or starts growing. The innovators and founders are not necessarily the ones to grow a company once it starts getting corporate.
Will you be hiring Sabio grads in the future at WealthBuild.AI?
Absolutely — There is such a great talent pool at Sabio. Sabio will always be a part of our hiring pool, whether that’s for junior developers or recruiting seasoned alumni who have been at big companies.
Sabio grads who worked with me at my first company in 2016 now have almost a decade of experience. Those are people I have a relationship with, who I met when they were young. Now that they're more mature and experienced, I might follow up with them to return to this newly funded company as a senior role. As a CEO, I have the advantage of having been in communication and relationships with a lot of developers over the set of my time in fintech and it’s been great to see them grow.
Find out more and read Sabio reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Sabio.
Jess Feldman is the Content Manager at Course Report. As a lifelong learner, Jess is passionate about education — She loves learning and sharing insights about tech bootcamps and career changes with the Course Report community. Jess received a M.F.A. in Writing from the University of New Hampshire and lives in southern Maine.
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