Employer Spotlight: TouchBistro By: Carmen Tsang Finding employment after graduation is usually top of mind for most coding bootcamp graduates. Our Career Services team is here to connect students with our wide network of employers who are looking to hire, which has resulted in over 95% of our job-seeking graduates getting hired into Developer roles. TouchBistro is no stranger to Lighthouse Labs, having hired (as of this interview) 5 graduates for their team! Read below for our full interview with Derek Harasen, Development Manager at TouchBistro to see what an employer is looking for when hiring bootcamp graduates. Can you tell us a little about TouchBistro? TouchBistro is an iPad point of sale (POS) system designed specifically for the needs of restaurants, i.e., full service restaurants, coffee shops, bars, food trucks, etc. Our POS is designed so it’s easy to use and provides restaurant owners with data and analytics so they can make key business decisions with full visibility into their operations. How big is your development team, and what are their experience levels? Specifically, for developers, we have around 20 right now, but that's only a fraction of what we consider the team to be. When you include the product and design team, the quality team, the agile team, the devops team...everybody who contributes to making a quality product...the number gets bigger. What technologies or languages/stack does your development team use? Currently we have projects using Objective-C, Swift, Node.JS, React, and Ruby on Rails. How many bootcamp students have you hired? What has your experience been like with hiring a Jr. Dev from Lighthouse? To date we’ve hired 8 bootcamp students, although there are a few additional ones that have attended bootcamps but found other jobs before joining us here. The hiring experience has been largely positive so far, and it shows from the fact that we keep going back for more developers! Of our bootcamp grads, 5 have come from Lighthouse Labs. The Jr. Devs we’ve hired have been prepared and excited to learn, and have all made valuable contributions to the company. What issues did you face with integrating them into your team? The main issue we faced, and what we planned for and expected, was the amount of time and effort it takes to onboard a bootcamp grad. It has to be something a company acknowledges and plans for, otherwise you’re doing a disservice to yourself and the developer. How do Bootcamp student(s) compare to a Developer on your team from a more traditional background? The main difference we’ve noticed between the two, is the ability to problem solve. Bootcamps are an incredibly condensed and rapid way to get people into the workplace, and that usually means you only get enough time to learn the tools (ie. programming languages) and how to use them. Because universities have years to teach, developers coming from that background have had a lot more time to get comfortable and find different ways of solving problems. Things like architectural patterns and software design principles from multiple platforms. Luckily, these kinds of things can be taught on the job, researched on a developer's own time, and experienced first hand throughout a developer’s career. What are the pros and cons of hiring a bootcamp grad? The major benefits of a bootcamp grad are speed and availability. You get an employee who is ready to jump in and learn in a fraction fo the time it would take for somebody to graduate from university, and in an industry that is starved for talent that’s extremely valuable. You also tend to get a wider variety of people, with unique backgrounds and life experiences. At TouchBistro we’ve got people who used to be cooks, teachers, librarians, salespeople, different kinds of engineers...the list goes on. And with more diverse backgrounds you get unique approaches to solving problems. The major con is that you miss out on all of the exposure something like university gives to you, and you need to make up for it by dedicating real time and resources in to helping the developer learn. What appealed to you about hiring a bootcamp grad? The speed and ease of it. There is a fairly constant supply of talent coming out of bootcamps, and when positions open up we are never that far from another cohort of junior developers. Why a Lighthouse Labs student in particular? We’ve found the quality of the devs at LIghthouse Labs to consistently be above a certain level. There are a few schools out there that will graduate anybody who pays, which ends up being bad for both the employer and the student. How did you get involved with hiring a Lighthouse grad? In early 2016, one of the Career Services Advisors reached out to me to discuss our hiring needs. I ended up visiting the offices to meet with a few of the grads, and one of them in particular jumped out at us. We hired him and after having such a positive first experience we kept going back for more! How did the Career Services team assist with hiring your grad? They’re usually quite helpful, they keep us in the loop with email blasts about upcoming demo days, speed dating events, etc. And if we’re between cohorts and we’ve opened up positions we can hit them up and they’ll send us any recent grads that are still looking for work. What surprised you about hiring a bootcamp grad? I mentioned this earlier, but the diversity of life experience wasn't something we were expecting and we’re pretty excited about what it adds to our team.