It’s hard to manage expectations while entering a new career. There are plenty of factors outside of your control and what might seem like an ocean of things that you don’t know. However, there’s one way you can resolve the hundreds of questions you’ll have about your new career.
Thinkful has pioneered the mentor structure within its coding bootcamps. These seasoned experts give students an inside look at the field they’re entering, and they help students navigate the challenges of learning a bevy of critical new skills.
By enrolling in a Thinkful bootcamp, you gain more than just accessing an industry-standard curriculum. You’ll also meet someone who can tell you exactly how you’ll use your new skills in your dream career.
Thinkful’s mentors are just one part of the active community this coding bootcamp has worked to build for student success.Apply to Thinkful today.
Who Are Thinkful’s Mentors?
Thinkful mentors possess at least three years of in-field experience. Enthusiastic about helping adult learners enter a new field, the mentors take great pride in their work. They go beyond their call to answer any question that students may have while also guiding them on their learning journey.
The right personal mentorship can make the difference between success and failure not just in the course, but also as you transition to a new working environment. If you have never worked in the industry you’re planning to enter, you are expected to learn a host of new unwritten rules on top of your technical skills. Here is where mentors can guide you.
Thinkful mentors are those who have already built their careers and are driven to give back to the field. Many of them are also successful career changers who know what you’re going through, and they are at hand to offer advice to problems you’re experiencing at the time.
Often, they work with two to four students and meet two times or more per week to resolve any issues that students might encounter. We’ve spoken to one of Thinkful’s mentors in a previous article. In this article, we aim to highlight the perspective of mentorship through the eyes of students and mentors themselves.
We talked to two students and their mentors about their time in the program. These relationships helped many students out of difficult situations, which in turn has given mentors the satisfaction of being there for them.
Hear from Students and Their Mentors
The students whom we spoke to were nearing the end of their Thinkful courses. And, although both were attending different programs, their gratitude for their mentors was similar and overwhelming.
Joann Nadi and Laura Alexander: Data Analysis
Joann is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist at Emory Healthcare. She’s been in this position for several years but recently decided to apply to Thinkful.
“What I do is diagnostic medicine, where we analyze samples to find out what is wrong,” Joann said. “And with the results of a test, the doctor will know what kind of blood transfusion to give, and how many units the patient needs.”
Joann’s duties include some administrative work where she supervises a team of professionals. She does their annual evaluations and looks at process improvement, making sure the work is as efficient as possible. Sometimes, her job sends her away to learn new software, which leads to crossed wires as everyone tries to catch up.
“I’ve seen it happen not just here in Emory but also at other hospitals I’ve been at, and I felt like there had to be a better way,” Joann said. “Then, I started to wonder how different things would be if people who know what we do in healthcare are part of the design process for these applications. That might help make them better.”
So Joann decided that she’d use her healthcare expertise to improve the software that people rely on every day. She wanted to learn more about the creation process and why tech companies like Apple and Microsoft continued to lead the pack in terms of innovation, while other industries continued to lag.
“Information in healthcare is still delayed,” Joann said. “You don’t get access to what you need right away to help patients. So, I figured I’d learn how they do it at Apple and other companies—how they’re always innovative, thinking ahead, and using data to make insightful decisions.”
She was looking for a place to learn about how to handle massive reams of data that healthcare workers deal with when she found Thinkful. The program’s benefits drew her in, including the personal relationship with a mentor.
“I started looking at different programs,” Joann said. “When I saw Thinkful, I thought, ‘Wow, I like this company.’ The program is rigorous, actively engaging, and you get one-on-one mentorship. Above all, they promise that you’ll be hired, and I thought that was amazing.”
Meet the Mentor: Laura
Thinkful paired Joann with her mentor, Laura, soon after she enrolled in the Data Analytics course.
Laura studied industrial engineering in college but was drawn to coding. She figured she might not be able to finish school in time if she pursued it. But she always felt like she should come back to it at some point.
“If I had time, I probably would have double-majored, but I realized I would never graduate,” Laura said. “But in my roles after graduation, I did everything in data analytics. I always loved solving puzzles as a kid, and I felt [that] it was kind of like solving puzzles but in the adult world.”
During the pandemic, her work hours were reduced and she was looking to do something to fill her time. She had changed roles and wasn’t getting the chance to train as many new people as she once had. That’s when she found out about the mentoring opportunities at Thinkful.
“This mentoring opportunity has been a perfect fit,” Laura said. “I’m getting the chance to share knowledge with students who are just learning data. I love watching people go from not knowing how to pull data to pulling it and topping me, I find that fulfilling. I’ve been with Thinkful for about a year, and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of different students and watch them grow in the program.”
Joann feels like she owes a great deal of her success to Laura. It’s not common to have an expert available to answer any question while making a career change.
“Personally, I think the mentorship program is what keeps you from feeling like you’re just being thrown out there,” Joann said. “You have this team that’s working together with you on a one-on-one basis. So, when I have questions, I reach out to Laura and before I finish sending [further] questions, I [would already] have a reply.”
This isn’t to say that Laura gives her students the answer right away, she prefers to help them figure out the right way to think about each problem.
“I think students can come to this program and make what they want of it,” Laura said. “So if they just want [a] spoonfed answer, I can typically read that. But I always push the students to think about a real-world scenario where they look at their own data and think about how they’d go through it. I always tell them not to be afraid to Google how to do something because it’s not about memorization [but] about knowing where to find the information.”
As Joann entered the home stretch of her program, she had glowing praises for Thinkful’s program.
“It’s been wonderful,” Joann said. “I started not even knowing what I was supposed to do with the data. But the curriculum is structured in a pretty engaging way. It’s made so that you think through what you’re doing. You’ll use real business data to figure out what’s going on, learn to clean up the data, prepare it and go through all the processes.”
Her mentor gave her an insight into the industry she felt she needed to complete her journey into data.
“Because of my mentor, I feel like I don’t have a gap as I learn these skills,” Joann says. The fact that mentors are engaged in real-life environments where they work with data, is yet another advantage. “Laura [shares] her daily work examples as we talk about what we do. So that [provides] a better [idea] of what it [could] look like when I get to where she is,” Joann adds.
They also plan to stay in touch long after the program is over, which is a testament to the impact Laura has had on Joann’s life.
“She’s part of my success story,” Joann said. “She’s already known in my family, everybody knows Laura. I’m going to keep giving her feedback, and she’ll be hearing about me as well, but we’ll definitely keep communicating.”
Laura, who usually only hears from students for a few months after graduation, looks forward to helping Joann at the next level. Given her strong belief in post-graduation support, she is excited to see how her mentee navigates a new technical landscape.
“I think her passion for data and desire to make changes in the world is so great,” Laura opines. “She always says she wants to be the next Laura, but really, I could see myself reporting to her one day because she’s just so passionate. She is a go-getter. I think we’ll definitely stay in touch.”
Esaul Navarro and Emily Mathisen: Digital Marketing
Esaul Navarro studied Business Administration with a major in marketing at California State University, Stanislaus. He enjoyed his time in school but felt that something was missing from his skillset.
“We learned a lot of stuff about marketing, but I think they focused more on the traditional side of marketing,” Esaul said. “So I felt like I needed something to complement that because most jobs now require digital marketing experience. That was when I discovered Thinkful. I chose the program because they offer hands-on experience.”
Esaul also liked Thinkful’s career services, which help students with networking, job application, interview prep, and more. These soft skills were among the big focal points while working with his mentor. The advice she gave stuck with him as he transitioned into the workforce.
“Soft skills are important, but hard skills are important too,” Esaul said. “Employers love to see actual things that you’ve done, like the projects. Your portfolio [will] show [how] you can use software or certain programs. So those skills are an important part of your resume.”
Meet the Mentor: Emily Mathisen
Esaul met his mentor, Emily in the first week of the Digital Marketing course. Emily had earned a degree in Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Marketing and Economics. She worked for Boscov’s Department Stores for several years, but she decided to switch things up to spend more time with family after constantly traveling to discover new products.
She went back to school for a marketing degree and worked as a director of marketing at a wellness center for three years before becoming a digital marketing consultant. At this point, she realized that teaching was one of her passions and wanted to give back. That’s when she discovered an opening at Thinkful.
“I still have my business, but I also mentor students part-time,” Emily says. “I really like the applied learning model that they have at Thinkful. [While] you [cover] the curriculum, you’re also looking for a job and [receiving] hands-on experience from someone in the industry.”
When Emily first met Esaul, she did the things she does whenever she meets a new mentee.
“I obviously tell them why I’m here, [which is] to help them as much as I can and really [share] some real-world experience from the digital marketing world,” she explains, adding that students learn how to navigate through the career process.
“A lot of them don’t know where they want to start, so I help them identify different jobs and different opportunities in the digital marketing world,” Emily says.
Along with learning about a student’s goals at the end of their Thinkful experience, Emily provides them with technical and supportive resources to set them up for success. She also tries to figure out which part of the field they’re interested in.
“I would like to know if they want to be a digital marketing generalist where they’re a jack of all trades and do blogs, emails, and social media marketing, or if they just want to [focus on] one department,” Emily says. “Do they just want to do content? Do they just want to do social media? I really like to identify their goals.”
Esaul learned about the different specializations during his time at Thinkful, and he decided that he would make his decision after he starts working.
“I would like to start a job as a digital marketer, working with companies where I can actually learn more,” Esaul says. “I want to learn what I like to do best and focus on that one thing so I can become a specialist in one part of digital marketing.”
Esaul also wanted to use his experience in customer service to help other companies.
“I’ve always been interested in working for Yelp because I have a lot of experience with customer service,” he says. “I’ve worked as a server and a kitchen manager and stuff like that, and I’ve been able to see how customers really react to customer service. Yelp is a tech company where you can actually implement those customer service skills and help little companies get better at customer service.”
Esaul credits Emily with teaching him more about the industry and providing a lot of interesting technical knowledge that only someone at her level of experience would be able to.
“Emily is really helpful,” Esaul says. “She has a lot of experience with helping people, and she also works in marketing, [which is] her day job. I like how she can give me real-world advice on how to work with real companies.”
Emily’s been with Thinkful for over a year now, helping students find their digital marketing niche. It still makes her happy to see students succeed after completing the program.
“It’s really exciting for me to learn what their goal is and help them achieve it,” Emily says. “I’ve had many students leave with a job already [waiting] or that they have a lot of prospects lined up. And the great thing about Thinkful is after they’re done with the curriculum, they work with a career coach to help them get a job if they didn’t get one at the end of the graduation period.”
As a little boost for her mentees, Emily provides mock interviews to supplement Thinkful’s career coaching. A mock interview with someone with industry experience can be a valuable learning experience for new mentees. The interview prep comes in handy when students have networking opportunities and need to present their stories professionally.
Even though she’s very qualified to dispense advice, Emily always reminds her students to keep learning, which is advice she tells herself daily. “It’s an ever-evolving market, and things are constantly changing,” Emily says, adding that towards the end of the mentor session, she often shares a list of resources with her students.
“I [also tell them who to] follow on Instagram, [which] newsletters to sign up for, and [look out for] free Google certification programs. That’s what I think is great about these students. They might be 40 or 50 [years of age], and they’re just discovering a new thing they want to do, which is awesome.”
Be the Next Success Story
Every student has countless stories of how their mentor helped them but never got the chance to mention it. Seemingly, mentors also love coming back to the job every day to give back to the field and help people make improvements in their lives.
A one-on-one mentorship gives Thinkful students exclusive access to a professional that can demystify their new career. Thanks to the small number of students that mentors work with, they can offer a personalized approach to meet each mentee’s needs.
And so, if you want to work with someone who has years of experience as you start a new career, schedule a call with a Thinkful Admissions Rep today. If you want to learn more about this school, check out this Thinkful review.
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.