The tech talent gap is growing. According to recent estimates, the United States has almost one million open IT roles, but not nearly enough professionals to meet this rapidly rising demand.
Our national skills shortage won’t fix itself—so organizations like SkillStorm are taking matters into their own hands. Since 2002, the opportunity accelerator has been deploying IT professionals across North America to build trusted pipelines of tech talent for Fortune 100 clients.
As part of that mission, SkillStorm partners with 2U, Inc. to funnel boot camp graduates into their organization. We sat down with two SkillStorm leaders, Richard Perez, senior technical recruiter, and Lauren Wray, marketing manager, to discuss how 2U-powered boot camps support their core goals—and take the tech world by storm.
Describe the SkillStorm mission of “accelerating opportunity.” What does this look like in practice?
Lauren: We live by this mission. Our ultimate goal is to accelerate opportunities for people who may not have considered tech as a potential path, then position them to achieve successful careers in the industry. So often, people never even consider a career in tech. They don’t realize the possibilities and earning potential that’s there. But the truth is, you don’t need a STEM background to be successful. We’ve seen musicians and English majors go on to excel in tech. At the end of the day, there aren’t enough domestic professionals to fill the tech talent gap. When having conversations with people, we always remind them: You're building a lifelong career that will always be in demand.
How are your hiring objectives tied to this mission—and how does 2U help bring that to life?
Richard: SkillStorm is committed to hiring, training, certifying, and deploying tech talent. To achieve those goals, our team looks for people with specific soft skills and problem-solving skills. We ensure quality candidates for our clients by partnering with organizations like 2U that offer strong curriculums taught by industry experts.
What soft skills do you look for in candidates?
Richard: Some of the most important soft skills are being able to give clear presentations, carry on conversations, and provide direct answers to questions. If we’re asking you a specific question, we don’t want you dancing around the answer or talking in circles. We want to have true, meaningful conversations during the interview process.
Lauren: A lot ties back to having strong communication skills. In technology, you’re working with different divisions and teams rather than being siloed in a room all alone. It’s important to be able to express problems to team members and document processes clearly so others can see what has been done.
In honor of recently celebrating Veteran’s Day, let’s talk about one of your core goals. How do you accelerate opportunities for those affiliated with the military—and has 2U helped with this goal?
Richard: Our goal for 2021 is to hire 250+ veterans, active military members, and reservists. One of our boot camp hires was actually a former service member, too. He was a really strong candidate and has already been placed.
How would you describe the veterans SkillStorm hires? What skills do they bring to the organization as a result of their military background?
Richard: In the military, you’re always searching for different solutions. Because of that, veterans come to SkillStorm already equipped with many transferable skills like problem solving, time management, and strong organization. Part of our job is getting service members to realize what they already bring to the table.
Lauren: Service members have a really great work ethic, too. They’re determined to solve problems, and will get the job done no matter what resources are available. Couple those skills with training and certifications, and these candidates are very in demand.
What skills have you observed in 2U-powered boot camp graduates, specifically?
Richard: Something 2U does really well is prepare students for the professional world. Boot camp graduates know what to expect during an interview. For instance, they know we’re going to dig into their technical experience—coming into the conversation, they’re already polished. 2U-powered boot camps give them a playbook for talking about skills and capitalizing on experience. They also give them confidence, which is critical.
How does the hands-on boot camp model prepare graduates for their time at SkillStorm?
Richard: The hands-on model helps them complete strong training at SkillStorm. Graduates of 2U-powered boot camps already know what it’s like to operate in a team environment. When they come into our program, it’s not their first time collaborating with others or working with Agile methodologies. Because of that, they excel at SkillStorm.
What does SkillStorm look for in a strategic talent partner, and what makes 2U a good fit?
Richard: SkillStorm primarily looks for partners who have strong curriculums, since it’s important that we find people with a solid understanding of technology. 2U-powered boot camps really take the time to build upon candidate skills and go beyond the basics. Overall, we’re seeking quality—and 2U is definitely a quality partner.
How do you see 2U-powered boot camps benefiting SkillStorm long term?
Richard: Since partnering with 2U, we’ve been introduced to consistently high-quality, polished boot camp graduates. Thinking ahead, we look forward to maintaining and strengthening that relationship—it will only continue to grow.
Learn more about us.
At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.