In the past, career services were considered as an afterthought for many schools or an office on campus that students often walked by but never entered. Today, it’s proving to be a major differentiating factor between universities and bootcamps. Students are now scrutinizing career and placement services offered by schools before deciding on where to apply and enroll. This means one thing; schools that focus on delivering high-quality career services are setting themselves and their students up for long-term success.
Career Services, or Placement Services, as it’s called at Kenzie Academy, is an important part of what the coding bootcamp offers its learners. It focuses on giving each learner the career development support needed to successfully land a job after graduation.
Redefining Career Services
Kenzie Academy has long offered career services to its students through its Placement and Outreach Team which sets it apart from the common “sink-or-swim” approach traditionally seen in universities. From the moment a learner begins a program with Kenzie Academy, the Placement and Outreach Team is part of their career development journey.
“The Placement Team helps students get ready and get the skills and resources they need to find jobs upon graduation, and sometimes even before they graduate. That includes everything from our career curriculum that starts at the beginning of the program, to getting them assigned an adviser who works with them one-on-one and in small groups. We also help them get them ready for the interview process and help with resumes,” said Andrea VanderStelt, Associate VP of Placement and Partner Engagement at Kenzie Academy.
“We also have our Outreach Team, who are actively looking for and talking to companies every day that are looking for junior tech talent. We’re always doing that matchmaking process between our employer partners and our learners,” Andrea added.
Career Services is no longer just for graduates or graduating learners. Kenzie Academy has redefined it as part of its learners’ entire stay at Kenzie.
Kenzie Academy Job Placement Support: What Can You Expect
The Kenzie Academy Placement and Outreach Team supports graduates with both their readiness and job search by providing the following:
- Review career prep materials like resumes, portfolios, LinkedIn, email etiquettes, and more.
- Mock interview support, interview preparation, and professional networking including virtual networking.
- Job search support via Kenzie Academy job board, acquire new employer partners, host career events and info sessions, and manage weekly student recommendations.
The Placement and Outreach Team has several roles, all of which aim to help a graduate get hired after graduation. Some of the roles include:
- Placement Advisers: Advisers work directly with the graduates on their job search while supplying the Outreach Accounts Manager custom recommendations to open jobs.
- Outreach Account Managers: They manage and acquire new employer partners and job opportunities for the graduates. They partner with Placement Advisors for recommendations and provide those directly to employers. They also manage career events and information sessions.
Aside from the roles above, the team also includes Career Advisers. “The main difference is that our Career Advisers handle a higher volume of learners. They’re really there to bring them in, get them going, get their career artifacts ready. They work with the learners the entire time, from the time they come to them, to the time they get placed,” Andrea explained.
“Placement Advisers are who we consider as subject matter experts in certain areas. They have deep experience in recruiting, particularly technical recruiting. They’re the ones that provide in-depth interview prep when it’s needed. They also help with offer negotiations because they’re the ones who’ve sat at the other side of the table with hiring managers. They know exactly what hiring managers are looking for, how they think, and how they tick, so to speak,” she added.
“Having that core recruiting experience and being able to deal with a high volume of learners – this is what our advisers are very good at. While managing that heavy caseload, they also have recruiting experience which is critical in truly helping our learners get placed. It’s an area we focus very hard on, having people on our team with that type of experience,” Andrea said.
Additional Career Development Tools
Another highlight of the Placement Services at Kenzie Academy is the Kenzie Profile Database. Employer partners are given access to this database where all learners have a page featuring relevant information—photo, name, a short introduction blurb, resume, LinkedIn profile, Github link, and more. Everything a potential employer needs to know about an applicant can be found in this database. Employer partners can take a look at the profiles to see if they are interested in any of the learners and graduates.
Kenzie Academy also has a system where students can record all the positions they’ve applied to. For every position applied to, Kenzie Academy will send a message to that company and do a “soft introduction” of the applicant and the school itself. This creates brand awareness for both the learner and Kenzie Academy.
Another way that Kenzie supports its learners in their job search is by matching them directly to employer partners. Twice a week, advisers meet with account managers to discuss open positions and learners who would be a good match for these positions. This works especially well when the learner has spent a lot of time with their adviser, giving them a deep understanding of the skills, interests, and goals of the learner. Kenzie will then make a direct recommendation to the employer and send them the profiles of learners who they think would make a good fit for the position.
All these tools and techniques take a lot of effort on Kenzie Academy’s part but according to the team, the results are well worth the effort. “We want to do anything and everything we can to help the Kenzie learner stand out,” Andrea explains.
The Feedback Loop
Kenzie Academy also views its Placement Services as being more than just Career Services and looks at it as a “recruiting agency but in reverse.”
Andrea further explained, “One of the things we work on and are continuing to work on is the feedback loop. When an employer partner is reviewing our students’ resumes and says, ‘I really like this’ or ‘I’ve looked at a few of your portfolios and they are missing X, Y, and Z’, we listen.
“We are working to create a feedback loop that takes that information back to the academy side, to the instructors, to the people developing the curriculum and say, ‘Hey, here we see a pattern, how are we going to make some adjustments to what we teach? That’s how our team works with the instructors,” she continued.
By doing this, the feedback from employer partners has a direct impact on the curriculum of the school. This allows Kenzie Academy to adjust its programs based on what real-world employers are looking for.
For many learners, the opportunity to land a job at a major tech company is one of the main reasons for reskilling or upskilling. Kenzie Academy partners with a number of employers to help its graduates get a headstart in the tech industry.
One of its main employer partners is Amazon through its online Software Engineering Program with backend Java Specialization. “We have a partnership with Amazon—they have a program called Amazon Tech Academy. We use their curriculum to train people who are outside of Amazon and bring them into Amazon as Java developers. We are helping them build that pipeline by finding that talent, training them, then handing them over to Amazon,” Andrea shared.
Another partner that the school works closely with is Wunderkind. Here’s what Wunderkind has to say about Kenzie Academy:
“Wunderkind initially decided to work with Kenzie because we had several engineering and product testing roles available, and we wanted to partner with a local Indianapolis organization to source excellent talent for those roles. Kenzie was recommended to me by someone in my network and after looking through the website’s overview of the Engineering and UX/UI programs, I was blown away by how comprehensive they are!”
“Once I began speaking to Kenzie students and graduates, I was even more impressed. They not only possessed the technical skillset we were seeking, but also the intangibles – great communication, enthusiasm, insightful questions, etc. My Kenzie contact would send us recommended candidates and profile overviews to best match their students with Wunderkind’s openings. It has been a joy working with Kenzie Academy staff and students, and we’re elated to have welcomed several Kenzie grads to our organization over the last couple of months.”
Employer partnerships are another important tool that helps Kenzie Academy graduates land jobs that fit their skills and interests.
But What If I Don’t Get a Job After Kenzie Academy?
Even with the Placement and Outreach Team constantly working to support learners, the school is clear that ultimately, finding a job still lies in the hands of the students, not on the school.
“We are here to provide our learners with the resources, the skills, and the support that they need to go and find a job. The analogy I’ve given is that the learner is the one that’s driving the car. The Placement team is removing the orange cones on the road. We are the GPS that talks to you when you go off course, gets you back on course, and tells you what to do. But if you never get in the car and start the car, it doesn’t matter what the Placement Team does, you’re not going to get a job,” Andrea said.
Kenzie Academy also offers the Kenzie Tuition Refund Guarantee. With this, the school will refund 100 percent of paid tuition if a graduate is not offered a “Qualifying Position” within 180 days of completing their program. This guarantee is subject to terms and conditions, as well as limited to certain cities in the US.
This guarantee clearly demonstrates the confidence Kenzie Academy has in its programs, learners, and Placement and Outreach Team.
Before getting to the point where a refund is considered, the school will dive deep into the case to identify areas that need to be worked on. The school will also utilize all resources to try and fix the issues—whether it’s additional interview prep or updating a resume. Whatever the reason is, Kenzie Academy is committed to the success of its students and will give them as much support as they need.
Andrea has one piece of advice for Kenzie Academy learners: “You need to make your job search a priority. Don’t give up and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
Time to Invest in Your Career Development
After spending the time and effort to reskill or upskill yourself, career development can’t be left to chance. At Kenzie Academy, you won’t have to navigate the job market alone. The Placement and Outreach Team is ready to work with you from the moment you start your Kenzie Academy program all the way until you land your first tech job.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.