Employer Spotlight: Kiwi Collection By: Rebecca Haliburton Over 160 organizations of all shapes and sizes have hired Lighthouse Labs graduates! We're connecting with our employers to shed some light into the hiring process, and learn about their experience taking on Junior Developers fresh out of Bootcamp. Meet Aaron Koenig, the Technical Manager at Kiwi Collection! Aaron heads up the technology department, and makes sure all of their projects are done well and in a timely manner. What consumer/business issues does Company address? We are an online travel agent (OTA) similar to Expedia or Booking.com, except that we only sell the best luxury and boutique hotels from around the world. Book with us and you receive amazing free perks for your hotel stay, especially if you have a Visa Signature or Visa Infinite card. In addition to our main site (www.kiwicollection.com), we are responsible for managing about 30 hotel booking sites as part of the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection (www.visaluxuryhotelcollection.com). If you have a premium Visa card, you can book on that site and receive 7 premium benefits, including a free room upgrade and a $25 food and beverage credit. What has your experience been like with hiring a Jr. Dev from Lighthouse? It has been fun! I've attended a few of the speed dating events coordinated by the Lighthouse Career Services Advisor. The speed dating was great for seeing if there was a high level fit, but the networking with the students afterwards was valuable and extremely engaging for us. It was hard to leave! Afterwards, I let the Advisor know who I'd like to interview and what times I had available and she set up interviews. Lighthouse made it very easy for me. How did the Career Services team assist with hiring your grad? They setup a speed dating interview session, provided student resumes afterwards, scheduled interviews and gave me some salary guidelines. How many bootcamp students have you hired? As of August 2016, we've hired 5 and plan on hiring more in the future. What surprised you about hiring a bootcamp grad? I was surprised by how eager the students are. The bootcamp program sounds intense, and instead of being exhausted from it when they start work, the students have come in energetic and hungry. How big is your development team, and what are their experience levels? Our team is currently 12 people: 1 manager, 1 QA specialist, 1 designer and 9 developers. Experience levels vary for developers with a fairly even balance of senior (~10 yrs experience), intermediate (2 - 5 yrs) and junior. What technologies or languages/stack does your development team use? We're mainly PHP, but our complete stack includes: Symfony and Symfony3 frameworks, Elasticsearch, MySQL, Apache, Foundation, Angular, jQuery, TWIG, SASS, Git and Redmine. All of this built on Amazon Web Services with developers responsible for creating the Ansible scripts to continuously build the servers. What issues did you face with integrating them into your team? I hired two students at once in the first round, and gave them a project that was perhaps a bit too challenging technically. With two junior students starting at the same time, we didn't have the resources to offer them the support they needed either. For the last 3 hires though, I knew exactly what skill set to expect and we've now developed an informal training program where students learn from an experienced developer right from a beginning. How does your Bootcamp student(s) compare to a Developer on your team from a more traditional background? They're certainly more junior, but everyone comes out hungry and excited to work and learn. Our Lighthouse hires tend to work on more projects at home in their spare time. What are the pros and cons of hiring a bootcamp grad? Pros: It's easy, reliable and takes very little time on my part. I also know what I'm getting. Cons: It takes time to teach and train. For the 2 students that didn't work out after an initial 4 month coop, we didn't get to fully reap the rewards of our time investment in training. How did you get involved with hiring a Lighthouse grad? I had a job posting up on all the career sites once where I was unable to find a good hire. I had put a lot of time into posting, screening and interviewing but was unsuccessful. So I thought I'd try a different approach and reached out to the coding bootcamps in town. From that point on, Lighthouse did all of the work and I ended up hiring 2 students. Why a Lighthouse Labs student in particular? It's been challenging to find developers that have the right technical skills and are a good cultural fit. Lighthouse has allowed me to train them in our technology at a very reasonable starting cost. Looking to hire a Jr. Developer for your team? Connect with our Career Services team, or register for our next Employer Event!