One of the advantages of a four year college experience is the support and time to discern your career path. There are entire offices dedicated to supporting students in learning about themselves, their strengths, and their interests. And once students begin to learn more about themselves, there are more experiences and advisors to support finding a major and eventually a career path.
It’s still common practice for students to spend the bulk of their college experience in a classroom, learning about theories that may or may not be related to jobs in that field. And if the student has majored in more traditional liberal arts topics such as philosophy, religion, or music the chances of a career directly to their major are slight.
Rithm School combines the rigor and focus of traditional higher education experience with focused skill-building and career preparation. Rithm designed a program that allows exploration within the tech field while preparing your soft skills to interview and land the job you want. When you head into your first interview, you’ll be prepared with theories, practical experiences, and strong presentation skills.
The Rithm curriculum is designed to help you choose a career from the time you start in the classroom to the time you complete your course. We’ll walk through different structures in place to support your career discernment.
Pre-work is a vital component of the Rithm program. Pre-work is an independent study and practice completed before you begin working in the classroom with an instructor and peers.
During pre-work, you’ll get a taste of different kinds of programming. You’ll begin to understand what aspects of web development you enjoy. As you move through your course at Rithm, those ideas can continue to evolve.
Getting Into the Classroom
While Rithm’s campus is closed due to COVID-19, you’ll get to participate in a virtual classroom. The virtual classroom setting provides important tools for students entering the tech industry.
While you’re learning new programming languages, you’ll be working with partners and small groups regularly. The purpose of working with peers is two-fold. First, research shows working in pairs and small groups can benefit individuals in retention and success in the subject. Secondly, working in pairs is a common practice in coding and programming jobs.
With all the group work, it’s important to take inventory of your communication and leadership skills. Understanding how your communication and leadership skills impact your teammates and the success of your project will be vital information for your job search and career.
Articulating how you work with others and problem solve on a team is bound to come up in interviews. It’s also important for you to think about when learning about a future employer’s company culture or spending time with a potential manager. Will your communication style mesh well with your team? What kind of leadership do they value? While different styles can flourish on the same team, it isn’t always the case. As you move through projects, it could be helpful to speak with your instructor for feedback in this area.
Outside of the classroom, instructors meet with their students weekly 1-on-1. This is a great time to process what you’re struggling with and what you enjoy. You can also ask your instructor for more guidance about what jobs or companies will focus on aspects of programming you like. This time is valuable, so it’s crucial you make use of it.
Your Career Coach
Throughout your course, you’ll have three lectures related to career discernment and the job search. Leading the career support department is Rithm’s career coach Zach DeRossette. Zach begins meeting with each student individually during the last five weeks of the program, while you’re working on your company project and starting the job search.
Zach will be your primary support during the final weeks of your time at Rithm and beyond. Once you’ve completed your course, you’ll meet with Zach on a bi-weekly basis for about three months. If you start a job in that time, you can still meet with Zach to get support in the transition to a new role. If you’re still searching, Zach can provide continued support for cover letter reviews, interview prep, and salary negotiation.
When Rithm alum Genna Mergola was struggling to find a job this past summer (2020), she had to find ways to stay motivated and continue her search. Genna writes, “Eventually, things started to look up for me. I believe that was due to timing, a change in my resume, and the advice Rithm always gave us to continue to apply for jobs and network as much as possible (don’t give up!).”
Outcomes week is when your focus shifts from learning coding to the job search. Rithm School alum Tyler wrote, “Job searching is a very different skill than coding, and it wasn’t easy to make the switch. However, I felt like Rithm gave me the tools and knowledge I needed to be successful, as well as continued support from instructors and my classmates.”
It’s easy to get anxious about when you’ll get a job and whether you’ll land a dream job when you’re starting your search. However, it’s more important to stay in the moment and learn what Zach and the Rithm team have to teach you about the job search. These soft skills will be invaluable for future interviews and promotion opportunities.
Hate interviewing or public speaking? Join the club. For most folks, this is not a natural skill but it can be learned. Zach reviews a variety of topics in lectures and one-on-ones that can help you prepare for your interview. The best thing to prepare you for the interviews is practice. You’ll participate in multiple mock interviews with the Rithm staff and get feedback afterward.
In addition to an interview, it’s likely you’ll have a whiteboard exercise as part of your job application. Tech companies employ these real-time problem solving exercises for multiple reasons. First, it verifies the skills you claim on your resume. Second, it demonstrates your ability to perform your job on the spot. Finally, it shows how you manage stress and pressure in the moment.
Rithm incorporates regular whiteboard practice into outcomes week allowing you to adapt to the format. One Rithm alum said, “One of my biggest challenges is self doubt (or the imposter syndrome). I had to really put myself outside of my comfort zone so many times, from doing my first white boarding interview at Rithm to showing up for class on the first day!”
Beyond that Zach reviews a lot of important concepts to help you during specific interviews and throughout the process. These concepts include a growth mindset, imposter syndrome, dealing with anxiety, managing rejection, and time management. These lectures are designed to be an introduction and overview. However, Zach will focus on specifics in 1-on-1 meetings if a student finds it helpful.
Rithm also covers salary negotiation as part of outcomes week. Salary negotiation can be challenging for many reasons and is very specific to each job and individual. Rithm encourages students to take their time in salary negotiation; big decisions deserve proper consideration. Strong negotiation skills are particularly important for minoritized groups, who often make less than their white male counterparts. This is why Rithm uses one-on-one time to cover the bulk of salary negotiation techniques and concerns.
Starting Your Job
The job search isn’t going to be a linear process. Some applications will go unanswered and some will progress halfway. However, in the end, you only need one company to hire you to start your career in tech.
When you look at the duration of your career, probably 30 years or more, you probably won’t remember the places that didn’t call you back during your first job search. But you will remember the skills you learned that helped you land your first job and your first promotion and the next one after that.
Rithm’s intensive program seeks to prepare you for more than your first job; they hope to prepare you for a rewarding career in tech. For more info about Rithm, click here.