In a previous article, we asked, “Why Thinkful?,” to discover why students might choose Thinkful for their bootcamp experience. A bootcamp’s curriculum and financing options may be appealing, but there’s another aspect that’s equally important to finding the right fit for you.
Support is key for helping students do the work and succeed after graduation. Thinkful gives students the support they need in all phases with strong personal instruction, mentoring, and career coaching.
Mariah Carter is an instructor in the immersive data analytics program. She began her career working as a math teacher for four years after getting her degree. Eventually, Mariah moved into data analytics for a successful company, and she stayed there for another four years. But during her time as an analyst, the classroom kept calling.
“I loved teaching,” Mariah said. “Even though I loved being a data analyst, I really had a passion for teaching and really felt like I had a calling to go back to it. But I loved being a data analyst, so Thinkful kind of combined two things that I’m really passionate about, and it was really exciting to get to teach students a career that I really enjoyed being in.”
Instructors like Mariah use their real-world expertise to guide students in the classroom in every Thinkful program. Because they’ve spent time in the industry, they teach students more than just the skills they need in their chosen field. They teach students how to integrate those skills into a workforce through real-world projects.
Mariah also uses her teaching expertise to foster a sense of community in her classroom. Students can see the growth all around them, and they can work together to grasp material with her expert help. She gets just as much satisfaction from seeing the students succeed as they do from their own accomplishments.
“I loved mathematics and I love data analytics,” Mariah said. “They’re two topics that a lot of people find difficult, and they think it’s something they could possibly never do or that they’re always going to be able to struggle with. Being able to take these really complicated subjects and break them down for people so that they’re able to do them means the world to me.”
But like every other member of the support team, it’s about more than just pushing students through for Mariah. As someone who experienced a career change, she knows how critical the opportunities at Thinkful can be for someone who’s looking to find their way.
“The mission is so important to me. Because I switched career paths, I know how difficult and scary it can be to join a new career,” Mariah said. “Thinkful’s mission of not only teaching people what they need to get their dream job but also following it all the way through to help them break into the workforce in that job means everything to me.”
Thinkful’s values attract a lot of their team members, especially people like Alexjandro, a mentor who wanted to give back after working hard to secure his own career.
Alexjandro Daviano is a mentor in the data analytics program. Alexjandro also currently works for a major healthcare company as a clinician and a data analyst. On his way to that job, he earned doctorates in osteopathy and epidemiology, along with master’s degrees in biostatistics, applied statistics, and data science.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy to make it through so many advanced programs. Especially when you feel like you might be on your own.
“There was a time during my first doctoral degree where I was very lost. I was unguided, there was a lot going on, and I knew it wasn’t just at that level [of education],” Alexjandro said. “It was that feeling of not having anybody help you out in any sense of the word when it comes to mentorship.”
Because Alexjandro went through that, he wanted to make sure no one ever had to again. He made a promise to go back and mentor people when he was ready to do so, and after he got to a point in his career, he decided to make good on that promise.
“Don’t get me wrong, I persevered and got where I needed to be. But at the end of the day, it would’ve been a lot easier if I had someone to set me on the path that I am on right now. It wouldn’t have taken so long.”
Several mentors on Thinkful’s team are just like Alexjandro. They’re committed to working with students on a personal level to ensure they’re getting everything they need to do well. These mentors are your personal tutor, sounding board, expert advisor, and if necessary, shoulder to cry on. They want you to absorb the material, know when to use it, and how it will affect you in the real world.
Because the position requires such a personal touch and every student is different, mentors tend to work with only two to four students each to ensure they’re giving everyone the attention they need. Some haven’t been in a classroom for decades and are struggling to adapt, others struggle with time management, and others worry that they don’t have what it takes to start a new career. Many can start to feel lost and overwhelmed, but their mentor is there to help them get through it.
“I try to tell them to take small pieces. They’re coming back and trying to get acclimated and they feel overwhelmed,” Alexjandro said. “They see classmates doing well, they don’t think they’re doing well. I say, ‘Take a deep breath, step back.’ You don’t have to worry about everybody else. This is about you. You’re in a class with these people, but they don’t affect your grades or what’s going to happen with you, so we need to focus on what’s making you the most anxious. Usually, when you narrow it down, it comes down to things that are affectable.”
Thinkful’s instructors and mentors work with students all the way through the program to provide knowledge and guidance. Even after graduation, the door stays open, and you can contact your instructors and mentors to have a chat or to let them know how things are going.
But after you’ve finished your studies, the job hunt begins, and that’s where career coaches like Elyse step in to help you finish what you started.
Elyse Yarnell is a career coach who works with students in the UX/UI program. As a career coach, Elyse helps prepare students for the job search, interviews, salary negotiations, and more for six months after graduation. Like Mariah, she also has first-hand experience with making a career change, and she uses that knowledge to empower the graduates she works with.
Elyse graduated with an economics degree but soon lost her passion after working in account management for a few years in Chicago.
“I worked at several different companies and realized I didn’t want to progress anymore,” Elyse said. “I didn’t like what I was doing, and I thought it was the company I was at, and then I got a new company and it would be the same thing. I went on my own exploratory period where I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I wanted to figure it out and I knew I wanted to do a career change.”
Elyse worked with a career coach to find out what she wanted to do and decided she wanted to be a career coach herself. After going back to school, she worked at a university for a while but still found it unfulfilling. That’s when she found Thinkful.
“I learned about Thinkful because one of my colleagues got a job here, and I fell in love with the mission,” Elyse said. “I loved how it was outcomes-focused. At a university, you might see one student and never see them again. It’s not a requirement to work with a coach, so you’ll see one person one time and hope it works out for them. But I really liked how personalized the coaching was at Thinkful. Smaller cohorts with personalized one-on-one coaching or small group coaching were really interesting to me because I felt like I could’ve made more of a difference in what I was doing.”
Career coaching takes several different formats. The one-on-one chats are there to help students with any specific questions or problems that they may have, and Thinkful alumni often do AMA sessions where 12 to 15 students can ask them questions on a specific topic. But Elyse feels that small group coaching sessions can really help students build confidence about their expertise in the field.
“I think there’s this idea that the coach is the expert. I really want to empower the students [to know] that they can share with each other and have meaningful conversations,” Elyse said. “I work primarily with design students from our UX/UI program, so I’m encouraging them that I don’t have to lead sessions. You can share interviewing techniques, or your job search strategies. It doesn’t always have to be me or another coach doing it. I really want to empower them to take some leadership opportunities.”
Students learn just as much from each other as their coaches during their first few months after graduation. Because they’re all going through the process together, it helps to share strategies and learn that you’re not the only one going through a difficult time.
And many students do, unfortunately, suffer from mental blocks during their new job hunt. Elyse says that the biggest problem her students face is imposter syndrome, where students feel unqualified or unprepared when it’s time to find a job.
“This feeling that you’re not good enough and other people know more than you. That’s tough to unpack because I think everyone feels impostor syndrome,” Elyse said. “I have impostor syndrome as well so I can’t say I got over it and I’m a success story. It’s more about managing it. The best way it worked out for me was talking to people who have been there and done that before me. Instead of thinking about failure, seeing what success looks like. The alums are a great resource because you can see what that success looks like.”
Many of these alumni were coming from completely different fields and trying to make it in tech, which can be difficult. But, it may actually be an advantage. Elyse believes that career changers have a unique asset that may make them stand out from the crowd, and it’s just about finding the right way to market it.
“I’m all about developing your personal brand. Because I’m a career changer myself, I like to think about how your background makes you a better designer,” Elyse said. “I don’t want grads to feel like they have to apologize or downplay their background, but instead really hype it up because they can show it helps them have a specific lens in their field.”
For example, let’s say you were a nurse who went through Thinkful’s UX/UI program looking for a new career. Your experience would be an asset for companies that build medical apps. You know firsthand about the frustrations that come from using unintuitive medical apps, and how you would improve them if you had the chance. This strength can make a difference during your interview process.
A Lifelong Community
Once you’ve made it through your program at Thinkful, you’ll always be part of the community. Mariah and Alexjandro both told us that students they’ve worked with often reach out to them to catch up and ask for advice. Elyse is always bringing in alumni to talk to students about their new career and how it’s working out for them.
“It’s not the end once this whole thing is over,” Alexjandro said. “Especially with me, feel free to send me an email, feel free to send me a slack message later. It’s not really ‘goodbye’, it’s just ‘see you later,’ and we’ll talk here and there.”
Just like Thinkful’s students, the support team comes from all sorts of backgrounds. They know what it’s like to work a job that’s not for them, and how great it feels to find your perfect fit.
“I love it. This is my favorite job that I’ve ever had,” Elyse said. “You have a lot of people on your side and the support system is so great. I just love how it’s real work that you’re getting from it. I think it’s a really impactful learning experience. I love working with smaller cohorts of students and seeing them and their entire story unfold. I stay in touch with them too, the relationship we build with the grads is awesome. We’re just trying to build a little community here and hoping that grows over time.”
If you want to work with the great team of mentors, instructors, and career coaches at Thinkful, you can start your application process today.
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.