At the end of their 8 weeks at Lighthouse Labs, we look to place our students in co-op terms with one of our amazing hiring partners. These co-ops can be either in Vancouver or elsewhere, and are always paid positions(minimum $500/wk). Usually, they last about 8 weeks before transitioning to full-time work. This process is captained by our amazing new Director of Career Services, Charlyne Forthergill.
So why do we do co-ops, as opposed to trying to place full-time right away or not providing any assistance? For all of us, any change in job means the first couple of months are about adopting to a new company and its particular ways of doing things. When it comes to brand new coders who were just stuffed with an amazingly vast amount of knowledge, that adjustment is even more significant.
Our curriculum is designed to provide sudents with the tangible skills they need to immediately contribute positively in a workplace. What we can't provide are the unique expectations and dev environment of any given company. We also recognize the need to balance confidence for grads are brand new employees, in a new industry, in a new career.
By setting our students up with co-ps, we are able to assure the smoothest possible transition to work. In setting it all up, there are a few concepts that are core to our philosophy. These ideas drive our methodology, and elaborate on why co-ops are perfect for the majority of bootcamp graduates:
1. Continued education
Most developers will tell you that the majority of the skills they use in coding were learned on the job. Part of this is simple math: there is no replacement for logging coding hours, and over time you'll spend many more hours at a job than in a classroom. This is at the heart of the bootcamp model. We give students the skill base to continue their education while getting paid. The inherent understanding between bootcamp and student is that upon grow as a developer. For students who push themselves, the sky is the limit. A co-op sets the expectation of continued learning for our students and the companies that hire them. Students are given a rare opportunity to not have to choose a company based on salary, but instead focus on the types of mentorship and opportunities to learn that the company can provide.
2. A two-way test
As much as our hiring partners are testing out these grads for full-time positions, the grads are also trying out the company for fit. For most of them it's their first job as developers, so they're learning what their preferences are in terms of culture, technologies used, and environment. After all, these students chose to take our program in order to do something they enjoy with their career. By making the opportunity a co-op instead of full-time position, it allows both parties a grace period where they can get to know each other without too much of a monetary and time investment (although about 85% of co-op students are brought on full-time). By the time that test is done, and if both sides like each other, a student is fully ready for the expectations that come with their full time salary.
3. Providing value
Companies aren't doing this for charity. They know our grads can be positively productive for them right away. Many ask them to dive right into crucial projects, or take on entirely new languages. Our students take these on right away and are usually contributing to the code base very fast. If we don't think a student can provide real value to a company, they won't graduate. It's a standard we are proud to have set from the outset and it's the single most important factor in companies moving past the inherent skepticisms that come with 8 week education programs and opting to hire a Lighthouse Labs grad.
If you want to get accepted to Lighthouse Labs, your best bet is to genuinely want to be a developer. If you are viewing us as just the 21st-century version of a gold rush, you're a lot less likely to succeed. While some students who come in with strong software backgrounds go and get full time jobs immediately, we absolutely encourage all our students to approach their-post graduation with the same gusto for education as they had before it.
Co-ops put the emphasis on a motivation to learn, grow and work hard; traits that every company who hires from Lighthouse Labs know they will be getting in every one of our students. In some ways they are the final and most important piece to our bootcamp education - the crucial commencement of your real education as a full blown developer.
This post is Part 3 of a 4-part series of interrelated pieces on how Lighthouse Labs is evolving education by using cutting edge pedagogy. For the other parts, click below: