Congratulations on Graduation! Now the real work begins.

by Ellen Mary Hickmann, Director of Professional Learning, Turing School

Every six weeks, we have the honor of graduating a cohort of junior software developers who are ready to enter the real world and secure a full time role. On average, 25% of our graduates leave the program with a signed job offer in hand. For the other 75%, the true work is just beginning. Thankfully, the Turing experience includes a focus on both being ready to DO the job and being able to GET the job.

At Turing, we have crafted a Career Development curriculum that supports our students as they enter the tech world. From the first week when students arrive, we dedicate time for students to understand their strengths, develop their “Software Developer” identity, and leverage their past experiences as they enter the job market. As students go through the program, we also dig into the basics of creating resumes, cover letters, and an online portfolio. But we realized that doing just the basics wasn’t enough for our students, so we decided to get creative.

Turing students at Healthgrades Job Shadow

Over the last year, we have developed multiple partnerships with local companies in order to expand our job shadow program. In just a few months, we secured over 25 local companies, including Granicus, Ibotta, Peaksware, Nordstrom and Healthgrades, who were thrilled to open their doors to our Module 3 students (8 weeks away from graduating) in order to show them the inner workings of their development teams. Most of our students do not come from a tech background and many have not experienced how a tech company operates. The opportunity to spend the day seeing developers in action, asking questions, and experiencing the process of shipping code is priceless. As one of our students recently said, “This might be the single best thing at Turing. Seeing what the actual job entails is huge.” This is great, but we can still do more.

Job shadow is a wonderful experience, but it does not simulate the true pressures of a technical job interview. We wanted our students to experience that simulated pressure before they had to be in a high stakes interview. While we provide multiple opportunities for students to practice interviews while they are students, the pressure of sitting with an instructor you’ve known for weeks is not the same as walking into an interview with the CTO of your dream company. So we decided to create some space for students to feel the pressure while also being safe to fail. In the final module for students, we have a session where we invite CTOs, Lead Recruiters, and Software Developers of some of our local companies to provide our students with real time feedback on their interview materials. This past week we had representatives from Food Maven, Sports Stack, Healthgrades, and Aetna work with our students to review cover letters, resumes, portfolios, and even Linkedin profiles. In a world where you rarely get feedback on your interview performance, this opportunity to participate in this conversation can put our students on a different path in their job search.

We are continually working on revising our curriculum so we can further reduce our time to hire. We love when students graduate. Graduation day is full of excitement and speeches. We have families and friends join to see the certificate ceremony and we celebrate. But we are actually fulfilling our mission when they sign their first job offer in a high fulfillment career. That is when the true celebration happens.