As a non-profit, Eleven Fifty Academy is held to metrics that drive the mission… “closing the technology skills gap.” That’s why we’re all here. That’s why we have the corporate partners we do. Seeing someone go from a low paying job to a $60,000 plus salary in such a short period is very rewarding. Getting to know the individual, watching their confidence grow as their knowledge and know-how increases. This is a potential cure for the technology skills gap our economy is currently facing!
Developing Soft Skills Along with Hard Skills
Constantly iterating towards greater outcomes, the Learning team at Eleven Fifty has stabilized the curriculum and delivers it in a 12-week, accelerated learning program format that has been recognized for its success. Whether the students are Launchers or Career Changers, the proof is in the outcomes. The companies that hire Eleven Fifty Graduates have not complained about their technical knowledge. No, it’s not the code where the early Grads struggled. It was in ‘Soft Skills’. And THAT, we could fix! Looking at ‘soft skills’ like a skill that can be taught, Eleven Fifty Career Readiness created five in-class Workshops that covered topics and taught skills that are needed in every business environment. How to Network, have a conversation, follow up on a meeting, interview, write a resume, know what your Elevator Pitch is… all things that we have discovered are sometimes, MORE important than coding skills.
Going the Last Mile
TechCrunch recently published an article on the ‘Last Mile’ in education. One piece from this article gave me pause,
“..the vast majority of colleges and universities continue to abide by the old adage: ‘we prepare you for your fifth job, not necessarily your first.’ So despite increasing recognition that students are increasingly unlikely to get a good fifth job if they don’t get a good first job, there’s been little in the way of adjusting curriculum to reflect employer needs and job-market realities. Lower-level course curriculum hasn’t changed; most departments offer the same lower-level courses they offered 20 or 30 years ago. Meanwhile, upper-level courses continue to be dictated by faculty research priorities, which operate independently of labor-market demands.”
Knowing What Comes After Graduation
Though I knew these facts intellectually, seeing it all stated in one simple paragraph was eye opening. And the timing couldn’t have been better. Recently, a friend asked if I would speak with their grandchild, who had just graduated from a very reputable University. The graduate was near the top of their class, in a difficult major, and was a smart kid! After meeting with them for about ten minutes, it became very apparent that they had learned nothing about what to do after earning that all-important degree. If I recall, the statement was, “I got my degree, well now what do I do?!”
Luckily, I had access to the experiences at Eleven Fifty Academy, of building out and teaching Career Readiness to each Cohort. The graduate wasn’t incapable, furthest from it! They were just never told what to do. How many graduates pay six figures for an education in a specific field, but given no mentoring or guidance in how to communicate with a potential employer, or how to network, or how to draft a professional email!?! It’s maddening.
Increasing Career Placement Rates with Soft Skills
Since Eleven Fifty Academy implemented the ‘Soft Skills’ addition to our 12-week curriculum, the Academy’s placement rate has risen to 90.4% (as of June 15, 2017) and the time from Graduation to their first day in a new job has dropped by more than twenty days and is continuing to drop. In a recent Cohort of fifteen, six of the students had accepted offers from employers PRIOR to Graduation.
Being nimble and proactive has allowed Eleven Fifty Academy to revise and adjust the technical and soft skills curriculum on a monthly basis, if needed. Having a degree from a four-year university and a daughter who graduated this year with a four-year degree, it is astounding the lack of all-around skills that are made available to these students. Late in 2016, a Career Changer Graduated from the Academy and had been interviewing for six weeks before accepting a job offer. He had owned a service company for most of his work life and rather late in life decided that he’d always wanted to learn to code. And now was the time. In the accelerated learning program, he learned how to code in Java and graduated ready to embark on his new career. After accepting that offer, I can still recall him telling me, “It is so surprising to me that coding is only about 10% of this whole adventure!” Since then, he has provided tremendous feedback in helping us improve the Soft Skills Workshops. If I think back to my own University experience, the subject that I earned my four-year degree in was less than 10% of the four years I spent there. Even today I can’t tell you what the other 90% consisted of. It is a great feeling to hear from the Academy’s graduates that they know exactly what the 90% is, and they exclaim it when they thank the Career Readiness team for the help it offered them in landing their first career in technology.
Closing the technology skills gap, launching a career, and learning to code.
Are you ready to recode your future? Eleven Fifty’s SmartStart programs are designed to help you launch or change your career in weeks, not years. We’ll focus on helping you develop into a versatile, well-rounded coder through an immersive coding experience while also giving you the soft skills you need to be employable.
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